How to Win at the Mental Game of Entrepreneurship with Noah Kagan (E102)


Noah is the Chief Sumo at where they help eCommerce retailers grow their email lists.

Previously Noah was employee #30 at Facebook, #4 at Mint, and worked at Intel.




Charles:                        00:00                In this episode of the business of eCommerce. I talk with Noah Kagan. This is the business of eCommerce, episode one Oh two, welcome to the business V commerce, the show that helps eCommerce retailers start, launch and grow their eCommerce business. I’m your host, Charles [inaudible] and I’m here today with Noah Kagan. Noah is the chief where they help eCommerce retailers grow their email list. Previously Noah was employee number 30 of Facebook, number four at mint, and also worked at Intel. He’s an expert in marketing and growth hacking and just like myself, he loves eating tacos. So, Hey Noah, how are you doing today?

Noah:                           00:42                Today, today was actually a really good day. I did boxing the morning, floating float tank. We talked a little bit about Noah just getting into the office.

Charles:                        00:51                Yeah. And so the float tank is you float in the darkness, right? Complete in this tank.

Noah:                           00:56                Yeah. So I actually, it sounds strange when you say it to like your parent or probably someone listening. It’s like you get butt naked in a room and you get in a box, kind of like seems like a coffin and then it’s quiet and you’re floating on basically super salty water for an hour.

Charles:                        01:11                And when you, you pay money for this. So people, yeah, if you don’t use this concept you’re like, yeah and I pay to do all this.

Noah:                           01:16                You know it’s funny you say that. So it’s 75 bucks for an hour. I mean maybe it’s different. You can get them on Groupon actually if you’re looking for it, get up, go look up Groupon if you want to do a first time. But I actually thought about my handyman and a handyman working on the house yesterday and I was like, yeah, it was him and it was like his apprentice, his cousin. And I was thinking about them in the, in the float and I was like, they must think this is so good. I swear this is so fricking weird. Like I was just imagining them being like, hold on, you paid what you pay us in a few hours. You pay to sit in water and do nothing. And do not. Yeah.

Charles:                        01:53                Yes. Yeah. It’s a very, all these things are very tough to explain to other people why you pay to do nothing. I feel like that’s kind of partially like the mental game, entrepreneurship in all of us, right? Where you’re like so busy throughout the day and you literally have to then pay to not be busy, which just seems bizarrely counter-intuitive.

Noah:                           02:13                Well I think that’s actually a common problem with most business owners trying to grow. And what I mean by that is that there’s this balance of like, I want to do everything myself or should I hire someone else to go do it and then what’s worth the money? Yup. Like I was talking with a young entrepreneur yesterday over dinner and it’s like, yeah, I’m going to do all these things myself. And I was like, right, well let me know how it goes. You don’t really see most like, you know, restaurant owners or eCommerce store owners or Amazon, Jenn Bazell st pack boxes.

Charles:                        02:41                Yeah. But, but at the beginning, how do you get around? Cause I didn’t see people go the other way. Right. There’s folks said kind of when they’re starting off, they do everything themselves. Or there’s other folks that try to do nothing themselves and they want to be, you know, the CEO with the title, but they don’t want to get their hands dirty. So I’ve see, I usually see people starting off go to one of the extremes.

Noah:                           03:00                Yeah, that’s a good point. Yeah. I can only speak from my own experience. Like when we started AppSumo about 10 years ago I intentionally did everything myself just so I can understand everything. Yeah. And I think that’s the better way. What I’ve, what I think is a common trap, a lot of business owners that are getting going are wantrepreneurs. They’re like, they make a product like, so they’d gotten it from China or they made an America and they invented something, which is really cool and that’s really fun. And then they, they always, they say this line, not always, but they mostly say this line, I need a marketer. Yeah. Okay. Noah, come growth hack it. And I’m like, one, I don’t know what that means. And two, you, you, you have a crappy product. And you know, it’s just cause I think, I think especially in the beginning, you have to figure out the sales, you have to figure out the marketing, you have to do the support, you have to do the creation and then over and then you know, as it’s working, you know, the only way you’re really going to grow up business is hiring other people or hiring software.

Charles:                        03:56                So would you say it’s time to grow once you kind of have the engine going? Like you can’t, the goal isn’t to hire someone to build the engine for you. The goal is you build the engine and then you hire someone to run the already moving engine and you kind of move to the next thing.

Noah:                           04:11                Yeah. I’ll tell you something weird. I heard very early on when I started in tech and it was a friend of mine and he said if you really want to grow your business, you can’t do work anymore. Yeah. And I was like, what are you talking about? Can’t do any work more. I like, I mean like I have to work right. And I’m supposed to be working on all these things. He said, well it to grow a business, you can’t be doing the work. And there’s like a, and that’s kind of stuck with me for the past years. And I think there’s two, two ways of looking at that. One, I think you have to find the place that you really love doing. Right? And so if you like packing boxes then do the backend boxes and higher everything else around it. But I think ultimately it’s like if you find something that’s working, like, Hey, this product works, go find the people that are better than you at that and let them go do it. And you just spend your time on the thing you want to do.

Charles:                        05:02                But what do you at the very beginning, cause this, there’s Mo, there’s so much work, right? It’s like 10 years ago you launched the business. It was, was, it’s called Sumo 10 years ago or was it

Noah:                           05:12                Similar? Was 10 years ago when we’ve launched a few products since then.

Charles:                        05:15                Okay. So, but they’re all the products under the parent company. [inaudible] Group. Okay. So when you launched 10 years ago, you weren’t at the point where you could just go and hire a developer full time or grow, you know, you couldn’t just hire what you needed. So what do you do at that point to actually get that first thing moving?

Noah:                           05:32                Yeah. So you actually can hire, I just think people don’t think creatively. Like I’m talking to this guy yesterday and he’s like, yeah, I can’t, I can’t do this. I can’t do that. I’m like, well, what can you do? I’m like, your parents really messed you up with like this, like critical, skeptical, like, Oh, just, you know, it’s not going to work. Attitude. And I, you know, I have that sometimes. But I think it really is about thinking, all right, well what can I do? What is the solution? Like we, we have Sumo wisdoms, we say at our company, and one of the symbolism is we have four of them. One of them is we can do anything. And obviously I’m probably not going to dunk a basketball and I’m probably going to be able to fly. But I think that is a symbolism for us, which is like, all right, well how can we do it?

Noah:                           06:14                Yup. And really trying to come in and approach anything. So when, when I started out, I did all the deals for six months and people then, well, how do you know when you have a product market fit you, you just, you really do know. Yup. And for me it was like, well, I know if I can get more products promoted on AppSumo, the business will grow. So I kind of looked at what was my biggest limiter and it was a salesperson to be able to go find more products so that I can promote it. And then I kinda just went down the list. And people might think, well, that’s expensive. It’s like, well, I paid them on commission. Okay. And then for a developer you know, one developer, I just kind of paint him in dinners a little. I mean, there’s like, I mean, now this guy’s famous developer, a really well known in San Francisco, but he, like, I met him through a friend.

Noah:                           06:56                I was like, Hey, I’m working on this thing, you know, I don’t have, I’m not making a lot of money with it. Can I be created with you in any way to help you, you know, help you help me do this. And then my business partner now actually worked for free for six months. Wow. and it’s not, Oh, I know you must be like this master negotiator. I’m a terrible negotiator. I want everyone to get what they want. And so I was just like, here’s what I’m trying to do. If it works out as it’s starting to work out you know, I can give you a part of it and then I can pay you later. The other thing that I wanted to really highlight is people are getting started or people are getting going. It’s much easier to convince others if you have momentum.

Charles:                        07:31                Yes. That’s big right there. I’m getting that a bit. Yeah,

Noah:                           07:36                Yeah, yeah. Oh yeah. Come like work for me. I’m like, well, who are you bozo. Yeah. But Hey, I’ve got AppSumo and this is back in the day. No one knew AppSumo and how it’s a pretty known brand. You’d tell people like, Hey, I’ve already sold like half a million dollars or whatever it was. It’s doing really well. Like you should come be a part of this movement.

Charles:                        07:56                Yeah, I think that’s it right there where you already had something going and you’re saying, let’s be part of this together versus saying, I have an idea, go execute my idea. Basically saying go do my default me versus saying I have an idea. It’s already the engines are already moving the trains going down the tracks. Just let’s get on the train together. Okay.

Noah:                           08:15                Yeah, exactly. And then, you know, it’s an evolution of hiring. Like now when I’m hiring, I’ve gotten to a point where like, I actually want to find people that just blown me away. And you know, I don’t really know this house. But originally I was like, look, do you have a brain and can you type on a keyboard? All right, I can probably teach you. And now I’m really looking to be around people that are teaching me. And I think that’s an evolution of a business where, you know, there’s the Netflix question, which I think is a great one. Just like if you had to start the company over or if your competitors were to hire someone, like who would you be? Like who would you take with you or who would you not want your competitor to have?

Charles:                        08:54                Yup. And that’s, so those are the people. When did you start hiring that? When did that flip? Right? Like, cause at the beginning you basically happy to have someone work for you verse at some, at some point you’re trying to go the other way and find people who are more qualified to you, then you’d do X, right? Like when did that happen and kind of evolution?

Noah:                           09:13                Well I think one thing for a lot of people who were running stores online but your listeners and your customers it is a function of how much time you’re putting into looking for these people. So I like part of me is like, I’m still looking when I get excited meeting really impressive people. So that’s probably why I still look. But it should be a significant part of your week. So if you are looking to grow your business, like look at how your week has been spent, like look at a pie chart of your week in hours and think about how much did I spend looking or meeting interesting people. And that really is a key thing about how you work, going to grow your business. Eventually you get to a size where, you know, we’re starting to become a size where we have a full time person just doing recruiting because literally the end of the day it’s mostly just the people.

Noah:                           09:54                It’s not Steve jobs, it’s the people. And you know, it’s not Elon muskets. His people. For me, I had, I would say people in the beginning, like they were just affordable. I think I hired my first salesperson probably six months in and then a support person was my girlfriend at the time, like three months then. And then I had a writer, no joke. My writer was a 16 year old kid from Bulgaria. Like he would write the copy for our products and our emails. So you can imagine he didn’t speak English very well, but Nikolai was awesome. He’s awesome. I still, I still love this guy. And so you think you got to figure out how you can be scrappy? I think one of the challenges I noticed, I don’t have kids, but if you have kids and a wife, it’s definitely a or husband. It’s really hard, right? To allocate that time to getting the business going. And so it’s just like how do you prioritize or what are you going to sacrifice to make that a reality?

Charles:                        10:48                Yeah. It’s one of the things until you have a family, you don’t realize, you know, when you’re younger that you can basically work unlimited time, right? You can work a hundred hours a week, it doesn’t really matter. But with a family you have certain things you have to do. There’s a certain, there’s a stop time, there’s a start time. You have to drive the kids to school. You can’t just, you know, ignore them. So it definitely makes it more challenging once you can’t ignore it. I guess you could. Yeah. Yeah. Well you were saying about the product market fit. Do you feel like that’s a like a switch that turns on and off or is it like a gray area that is evolving because you always hear of it as like the switch, like you found product market fit, but is it really that or is it an evolution?

Noah:                           11:25                It’s kinda like the, the questions like when do you quit? I think what I’ve observed, so I’ve been doing like tech company stuff like 20 years give or take and I’ve seen a lot like Facebook and and AppSumo and you know, just been around it and experienced a lot and I’m still learning, right? I haven’t, you have to keep an attitude that you don’t know everything. But I think there’s basically two ways of addressing it. There’s the push method and the pull method. And so I think there’s stuff that needs to be iterated on, right? But like maybe your first one is in the perfect, like most of the first versions of a product we’d love today look like crap. Facebook looks like crap. A iPhone looked like crap, Skype still looks like crap. You know, it’s still still working on that.

Noah:                           12:06                Jesus, these guys need some help. So I think what I’m saying is that there’s a push versus a pull. So what I mean by that is that when you’re going to the person that you think should be buying your product, are you pushing it on them or are they pulling it from you? And that’s what it is at the end of the day. Cause that I don’t ever, I love like not selling but educating people if I believe it’s something that they really need. And I think when, when we create things where like we created in isolation and that, and this is the unfortunate part, people spend 90% creating it and then 10% promoting it and it’s like, well why don’t you spend 50 50 and then in that thing you need to understand like, Hey, are people really asking excited for what I’m working on or are they just not interested whatsoever? I mean, I can tell you about a specific like software product that we’ve worked on and how we’ve kind of created it around that.

Charles:                        12:54                Yeah, I think that’s helpful because that concept of when people are coming, coming to the duo verse, are you going out and knocking on doors? It’s a very, it’s a switch that kind of happens all of a sudden and you’re like, Oh, that felt different. So what, what’s that like? Yeah.

Noah:                           13:08                You know, it’s funny, I think about that with the, if you’re single, I’ve never had it like a, a attractive person to show up at my door and be like, I want to date you. I’m not saying that you know, a pool still ha you have to still have to go out and put out, be out there and asking. But we, we so we’ve created our product which is mostly for Shopify stores but it’s an email capture tool. And we kinda got our asses beat in a lot of different ways by privy and Klaviyo and drip and a lot of these different companies in the eCommerce space on Shopify. And other platforms. And that was pretty discouraging. You know, we had this audience, we had this lead, we had a lot of people with knowing about us and using us and you know, from numerous mistakes internally we, we’ve not done well.

Noah:                           13:51                So we kind of had to come back to the drawing board and figure out what the hell can we do? We can’t build a better pop-up right now. We can’t out email market Klaviyo or MailChimp or drip. You’re spot sponsored by drip this show Orson Fox, which is another tool. And so we said, well, what’s the next, what is the thing that the ideal customer that we’re looking for really struggling with and what they’re actually struggling with was not capturing emails. It was not having an email tool. It was actually like, what emails to send and when can I send them? So we’re like, Oh, well if we just sent the emails, if we just like wrote the emails and sent it for him, how would that compare to like them having to figure everything out themselves? And so then we kind of went, what’s that?

Charles:                        14:34                Yeah. Okay. So you guys prepackage the emails.

Noah:                           14:37                We went further than that. So we started going to people we knew that ran stores. So we went to this guy named Nick bear from bare performance nutrition. And we’ve done even marketing for a long time, so we’re gonna have some expertise in it. We went to a few other stores, caffeine and kilos, these, these people that we knew and have good relationships with and were like, Hey, can we just do your email marketing for you and then just pay us 5% of whatever we help sell and we’ll just, and we just use their email software so they didn’t have to change anything. And they’re like, you’re going to just do all this stuff for me. I’m like, yeah, and then you don’t have to pay anything unless we perform and you can approve every email. So there’s really no downside. And we did that for about a month.

Noah:                           15:13                And then for all the customers we worked with, we doubled their revenue on their eCommerce stores now. And they’re like, Hey, can you keep doing it? And I was like, alright, that’s cool. So what I’m saying by that is that I didn’t go and spend three months to six months creating something and then having to go to these guys and be like, Hey, do you guys interested in using it? I went to them prove something right away very quickly. And then we were able to replicate that with software which we’re launching. I dunno when the show comes out, but it launches October 16th called meet And the idea is [inaudible] spell that again. Meet fam, M E E T I probably, you know, as I said that I’d probably need to buy meat Like I wonder if that’s taken. Anytime you say a domain, you gotta just go by rep Dean.

Noah:                           15:59                It’s bought in like Korea. This is anyone can have right now. Yeah, these guys got it. Anytime you go to buy the domain right away. And so we launched, so we said then we spent three months in tandem after we found that people were really excited about it. Building meet fam and it’s just for Shopify right now, but it isn’t, it’s an automatic email product. So it basically gives every small eCommerce store their own email marketer for free. And so that was in terms of a push versus pull. I think there’s a little bit like what was anyone asking you for it? No, but when I went to them and said, Hey, do you want us to do your marketing? They’re like, hell yes. And then when we doubled the revenue, they’re like, just keep doing it. Versus I think a lot of times, especially with like physical products it does get hard cause you want to spend all this time making something really cool and then you go to people in there like, eh, it’s okay.

Charles:                        16:48                It’s a lot how to test when you have to actually go and place a order. Right? Like the tech, I love what you do with the testing, right? One, you basically, instead of even writing a line of code, you were able to get out there and start doing the thing your software would eventually do. But with people and you know, it’s a lot easier to try that versus going out and saying, all right, when I spend a year in development and then see if we did it right versus the way you did it, you can just find out, you know, in a couple of hours of, is this even working? You know, do people, are they even interested?

Noah:                           17:17                And a lot of people, I, I know there’s listeners out there, Charles, who are saying, well, I have a physical product, which is different and I am, I mean, unique snowflake. And of course you are, I’m sure your mom and dad are fly. You’re the best. But it, you know, even with the physical product, you can go to people and see if they’re going to buy and say, Hey, I’m building, here’s a dry, and I’ve done this. Like I did it like on the Tim Ferriss show a long time ago where someone had a wooden toothbrush he made. And I said, Hey, does anyone want to buy it? Send me $25 on PayPal to this guy’s PayPal address. I think you got like $1,000 in PayPal, like obviously we’re on a show, but a lot of people wanted it and I think there’s a way of doing that. What the next thing that people use as an excuse is that, well, I don’t really have the product. How am I going to deliver it and or how am I going to make it? I’ve always believed it’s much easier to deliver when you have the money and the customer’s already committed. You’ll go, if you can’t solve that, you should just give up.

Noah:                           18:13                Versus I’m going to go spend the time making it and then hopefully put it on Amazon and pray that it’s going to get a lot of sales, which is not, it’s unrealistic and it’s not likely to happen.

Charles:                        18:24                Yeah. And now you can do so many clever ways of doing exactly what you said. Like we had a chat from board game on him and they launched a Kickstarter and they then use the Kickstarter to go build the tables. So it’s one of those things, they’re able to come up with the idea, show it, get the money up front, and then go produce the tables and send them later on. So you’re able to test and find out. And if the Kickstarter doesn’t work, you would know very quickly, Hey, this wasn’t what people want. So you don’t even need to go and do all that work upfront. It just allows you to test even with physical products, you can do that now.

Noah:                           18:56                Yeah. I mean you can draw something out. And I think one of the things I just want to highlight is just, it’s all about expectation and it’s just like, Hey, I’m going to sell this product. I’m working on it and if you buy it today and I’m going to try to deliver it within six months. And the beauty of that is that if people don’t buy it, guess what? You didn’t waste all this money in research time. But if you do, if they do like it, guess what? Now you can go like, now you’re off to the races.

Charles:                        19:21                Why did the people that not doing that? Like do people not cause is, do people not know that’s the right fit the right way to do it or do they know but hesitant to do it for some reason.

Noah:                           19:32                So where’s your, where’s your next vacation to Charles?

Charles:                        19:36                You know, I don’t know if I have one plan just yet. Actually I just got back from Florida and I have to plan another one.

Noah:                           19:41                Yeah. Okay. And the misses were just in Florida. Let’s, let’s just, there’s two different ways of getting to Florida. One way from Boston is you can drive South. Yes. Another way to get there is look on a map, figure out what city, which says you guys go to buy South of Miami, South of Miami. You’re in Miami beach, you went the Ferraro and the Ferrari were there. But you probably flew and you picked a map and then you found a hotel and you planned it out. I think it’s kind of, there’s not necessarily a great framework for people starting businesses where they’re just like, I’m going to kind of do stuff and hopefully it happens. You know, I’ve put together frameworks that we’ve used and, and you know, I think we had a course back in the day. We don’t sell it anymore, but basically it’s just like go get people at this.

Noah:                           20:24                The shortest answer is go Valley that people give you money, actual money for it. That’s all you have to do. The reality though is that that’s scary. And so I’ve always encouraged, we’ll do like the coffee challenge, which is you go to a coffee store and you just ask for 10% off and they’re like, Oh, I asked for something, I got rejected, it’s fine. And that’s really a parallel you’re going to have to do in. But most people it feels better and it’s safer to do that at home. While I’m working on this product for six months and I’ve spent $5,000 and I still don’t have a customer. And then hopefully when I launch there’s going to be someone there that cares. But I think the easiest short answer when you’re asked is like, why do people do it that way? Cause it’s easier. It’s not as effective, but it feels like you’re, you’re making progress. So for me, I’ve always been like, almost every one of our successful businesses has been done in under a month and this is like, and I think we’re at our fourth or fifth multimillion dollar business. So I don’t think that as a bragging thing, it’s just, it’s more, we’d done a lot of things that didn’t work so that we could find the things that do work.

Charles:                        21:30                What’s the ratio of businesses? So you’ve launched four or five successes, but what’s a ratio of ones that kind of petered out and they might even been, it sounds like when you’re testing like this, they might’ve never been become like a business air quotes. They might’ve just been an idea. You talked to someone and realized no one wants this. Like how often does that happen?

Noah:                           21:48                Yeah, I’m trying to think of the, the latest one that’s happened. It happens kind of along the way. Like as we’re doing some of these things. So I’ll just tell you, we, we, that this PR product I told you about where we do these new eCommerce email marketing called meet you’re like, I just plugged it, meet So we actually spent before that. So there’s, I think on the team there’s about 10 developers. So let’s just say each developer makes 10,000 a month. That’s $100,000 a month. And so for about four and a half months, we tried to copy Klaviyo and create like our own Klayvio version. And after four and a half months of not really having any costs, we thought AppSumo was going to use it. Cause Apple simply uses Klayvio better for knuckleheads. We’re like, wow, this is not an inspired direction. This is something we didn’t really get any other customers. We just got AppSumo. And at the end of the day, even if we got up, Sumo does, it really doesn’t seem like it’s going to be ROI profitable for us in the longterm. And so, but that was four months this year. So how much does that $400,000 trying to create something that was like a complete flop?

Charles:                        22:52                Hmm. Wow. So you’ve had, so I’m guessing you’ve had multiple of these along the way in the past 10 years.

Noah:                           22:57                I’m going to have more way. I’m going to have more in the future. It’s the idea is how do you reduce the amount of money or time to get to the understanding of what people actually want. I think that a key thing that I was thinking in the float tank and I’m thinking in general is, is what’s the goal? What are we actually trying to accomplish? Not necessarily the vision, like, Hey, I want to get to the moon, or I want to be the number one of this, but like what’s the goal? And I think that kind of should dictate a lot of the different actions that businesses are doing. And I think we make mistakes with that, but it’s like if you have a goal, then really every decision is does this move the goal forward? Or if it’s not, you probably shouldn’t be doing that stuff.

Charles:                        23:35                Are you talking to monetary goal or like what by goal? What do you mean by that

Noah:                           23:40                Exactly? It should be, it could be a number of customer goal. It could be a number of products sold goal, it could be a revenue goal, could be how many people work for you goal. It can be a number of things donated goal generally revenue is really nice one. And so in one of our business units send Fox, which is email marketing for content creators, it’s going to be a number of customers goal. I’m not as focused on maximizing the revenue. I’m focused on how do we get as many people using the product and liking it. So that’s what we’re focusing on this year and moving into next year. Gotcha. And so LA can be another example of goals. People always seem to love goal examples. Yeah.

Charles:                        24:13                Most people go immediately to money, but I think there’s a lot of other, you know, monthly revenue, whatever it is. But I think there’s a lot of other goals you can make a little more abstract. Sure.

Noah:                           24:21                Number of customers. I think what I’ve realized with goals, and so I have, you know, have my own show and I’ve done helped a lot of people start their companies and I’ve helped a lot of people wreck their companies. One of the things I’ve found, which is interesting as you ask someone, they’re going like, yeah, I’ve got a goal. I’m like, or what’s your goal? And I’m like, my goal is this, it’s to be better. I’m like, your goal is to be better. I’m like, okay, when are you gonna be better by soon? Okay, how are you going to know you’re getting? How? How are you going to know when you’re there? I’ll feel it

Noah:                           24:52                And I just don’t do it. That’s never worked for me. And I think a lot of people don’t know if that works. I don’t know if that works for anyone. It does. Well, the thing that’s weird is that no one thinks they’re doing it, but everyone does it. Yeah. I’ve, I’ve literally probably eight out of 10 businesses run that way. Oh yeah. We’re just growing. I think the most effective businesses are saying, I want to be at this point by this time. And that is everything I measure myself against. And then I set quarterly or monthly plans with KPIs and I can talk more specifically about how we structure our stuff to be able to get there. It’s the same thing as you go into Florida, I want to get to Florida, here’s my plan, I’m going to start executing my plan. Guess what? It’s not working. All right, let’s, let’s rejigger it all right. And eventually you get to your goal.

Charles:                        25:35                Yeah. Yeah, I think so. What I’ve always done for that, and I don’t know if I’ve heard other people with this, is I have them all in a spreadsheet and it’s the only file on my desktop and that’s it. So I just sit there and it’s the goal and literally I just open it occasionally and I mean it’s the only file on my desktop, so I kind of have to see it and you just kind of know what’s there and you’re able to change it over time. I want you to get to that month. It’s usually there’s a timeframe attached and once you get there you kind of change it. But having that just one thing on the desktop makes you look at it and review it and it’s very it’s in your face all the time. What’s your goal? It’s always in monthly revenue and it’s always X number of months out. And it’s usually revenue based.

Noah:                           26:18                And how often are you hitting your goal versus missing your goal?

Charles:                        26:21                I’d say 75% hitting. We miss, it’s usually usually if it’s a miss, try to hit it next month sort of thing. So it’s usually multiple months out.

Noah:                           26:33                And then when you’re missing it, I think one thing I’m always curious about is like what, what, how, how did you guys miss? Like what happened when you missed



Charles:                        26:39                Usually let’s say there was a, if our recurring revenue business bunch of uses might’ve left, there were unexpected or just less, there’s certain months that we just know are going to be less less inbound interests, that sort of thing. So if you don’t even make the goal correct for that month, if you don’t, if you don’t base the goal based on the month from past history. So for example, I know in eCommerce nobody adds anything new in December. It’s just not just not buying. In December you’re kind of locked down. You’re not actually implementing new software. So don’t have a very ambitious goal for December. I kind of as far as new signups, just because not many people know. Many people in their right mind are saying, Hey, let’s change out our automation system or email marketing system on, you know, red around the holidays. So things like that. I’ve just learned to just make the goal a little less aggressive in those months.

Noah:                           27:30                There’s definitely, I think something we’re trying to figure out our businesses, like how do you look at year to year performance so you can understand trends. But I think one thing is like what, how can you actually impact your goal? Cause I think what I’ve noticed with goals is that it’s good to have a goal, which is the big thing, have a timeline. But a lot of people choose metrics that are not controllable. And then they’re kind of at the mercy of, Oh well I hope Google sends me customers this month. And I hope Amazon doesn’t change my rankings. And I hope that Shopify, you know, performs. And so I’ve tried to figure out more in our business, how do we have more proactive metrics? So it’s more, all right, how many blog posts did we put up a month? Cause guess what? No matter what, I can control my blog posts go up, I can control how many emails we send out requesting links, which we don’t even do that. But that’s another example I can, I can choose how many products we launch. I can choose how many emails I cold email for getting new customers. So I think that’s something that I guess I’m curious for you, like if your goal is off, like how do you fix it?

Charles:                        28:26                Yeah. So you put, so you put your goals are always based on what you’re doing, not the re not the result. The input.

Noah:                           28:33                Well, so for example, let’s just, let’s break it down. So like for meek we’re launching October 16th probably live by the time it’s gonna be live by the time this comes out. I think. So you meet fans goal, we started in may, the goal this year was to generate $1 million for our partners. So let’s say that you’re using meek fam on your store. We wanted collectively to generate for you and everyone who’s using it 1 million bucks, which is like, I mean it’s pretty cool to help people make $1 million, I guess a billion’s cooler, but let’s just think of it. You got to start somewhere with a million. Yeah. And so then we mapped that out, right? We say like, all right, every month, how much revenue do we need to be making? Like let me pull it up. So every month, how much do we need to be making for these customers? And then from there it’s like, well how many customers do we need to reach out to and to potentially get a customer like that that can actually generate the amount of money we need each customer to be generating. And so it’s like, well we can contact more people. And so I think in general I just in business don’t like hope. I like surprises in my birthdays but not in my business.

Charles:                        29:40                So your, so your goal then is based on that your goal is just a number of here’s how many customers are going to reach out to per month and you know, and then you kind of extrapolate out if we do that, we’ll get hair by this date if we just hit this number.

Noah:                           29:54                Yeah, my goal is the amount of revenue generated per month. So each month I have a target about how much revenue you need to be generating and then to control that revenue it’s like well how many customers do we need to be having? So each month there is a target and what can we control or influence to be able to get that amount of customers. So in we’re in, are we in September? In September we need 48 customers. As it turns out, we were able to generate the amount of our target revenue, which is around one 90 or so for the month. We’re able to do that with like 20, I think we’re on 20 customers. So we, we didn’t need to necessarily focus on getting more customers. It was like, all right, well how do we make better emails? But that’s basically have a goal, have a plan around it, see what you can influence and then keep adjusting along the way.

Charles:                        30:35                I like that. How would have for the past, so you’ve been doing this for 10 years now, supposedly dude, supposedly. But how have you done it for this long? Cause I feel like this, this isn’t a story you hear very often. There’s a few folks that have been in it for quite a long time, but most of the time you don’t hear people 10 15 years in the software world. We seem to live in a very, I dunno, short market and people kind of do something quick sell and then, I don’t know, go go off in a boat or something. But how have you been doing it? I love gardening. So maybe we’ll sell some point and I’ll go off on a boat. No w how,

Noah:                           31:13                You know, I think there’s times. So I think I have, you know, everyone from her has a disease, which is we want to, we always think the next thing is going to be the next big thing. We’re like, Oh, this one feature, this one thing is really going to take me to that next level. And nine times out of 10, it’s not. And I think my problem, it’s not, I think my, my Achilles heel you could say is that I’m very fast and I can, I like move really quickly and I like trying a lot of new things and starting new things. And so I’ve focused on hiring people that are much better operators than I. So Chad Ayman, Shawn and these guys and girls that are working at singles, they’re better at saying, Noah, shut up. And so I’m, I’m, and I’m not, still not perfect.

Noah:                           31:59                I don’t know. I could be perfect one day. But I’m trying to figure out how to spend more of my time in the, I like promoting people. I like promoting products and I like starting new things. So how can I allocate my time in that little realm and let the other people who enjoy potentially having more meetings, leading different teams be more operational, run those places, which is what they really enjoy doing. And so I think it is kind of like where are you really strong at? Spend all your day doing that. What do you suck at? Find other people that impress you and you know when you’re impressed like one of our symbolisms as good or great,

Charles:                        32:33                What was that? It’s good or great or great and it’s it cool cause like I think when people have values always sounds bullshit

Noah:                           32:40                Or bull bull do-do. It’s like Oh integrity. I’m like what’s your integrity like you think anyone’s going to put liar on their values if you put, if you don’t, if you’re not, if you don’t have integrity then that’s a real issue. Yeah. Our company aims to be mediocre, but integrate is kind of something that we’ve identified that is asking ourselves in each other, is this good or great? Like is your work good or great? Is that teammate good or great? Are you impressed? And I think that’s just something that we, I try to hire people or I’m working on hiring people around me better than me in these other aspects, which has helped us be sustainable. I think the second thing is like, how are you evolving? Like this is something I still don’t know the answer to. Like on one hand, like we didn’t really haven’t really ran like the mobile app game.

Noah:                           33:27                We never got an iPhone, we never got an Android thing really. But somehow it’s still, we still seem to do pretty well and we still seem to be stuck in sticking around. And so I’ve, I’ve, I’ve wondered what stuff do we need to keep doing new things as we send the beginning or keep doing our existing thing, right? Like if you sell a trinket, like let’s say you sell a GoPro, right? It’s, well, it’s a tech toy, so it’s a little bit harder. That stuff gets outdated. This GoPro five is already past due and you know, DGI has kicked their butt and all these other people have kicked their butts. So maybe one way to consider it. You know, I think about like in and out burger, which is like, all right, create something that’s just, people are always going to need, you know, create these products that should be around in a hundred years.

Noah:                           34:12                You know, people are going to probably eat food in a hundred years. People are probably going to be playing board games in a hundred years. And I think that’s something I come back to our business pretty often, which I think this has helped to stay relevant just as like, Hey, when the recession comes, are people still going to need us? Like we’re not Apple, we don’t charge Apple prices. We’re like the low price, we’re a value play. We always have good, good deals. And it’s like, guess what, when times get tough, people still want even good deals and companies want to promote their stuff even more cause they need that help. I think we’ve done probably poorly in launching a bunch of new products. What’s funny about it, I was talking to David Hauser at grasshopper and David said to me, he launched grasshopper, which was their core thing.

Noah:                           34:54                And they launched these new things. And then after they sold that, he’s like, you know, if I would’ve just put all of the, the new things, effort and money and time that we’ve worked on into grasshopper itself, it would have actually just even been bigger. Oh. Cause they did other things before. They were trying to find some of these other products, which did. Okay. But still, I think he still, is he still part of Chargify? Cause try if I still a thing. Yeah. It’s just kind of interesting to think sometimes, like if you find something that’s working like another example that comes to mind, like something that worked with Geico, right? People are legally, you have to have insurance. But I think what’s interesting about Geico is that they moved from the phone to the internet. So I think that’s kind of how businesses can stay relevant, which is like you have something that they’re, everyone’s always going to need. But like maybe the medium of how you’re selling it or the medium of how you’re sharing it is changing. And so you have to evolve with that.

Charles:                        35:46                So they’ll change what they do but they change how they do it.

Noah:                           35:49                Oh yeah, that’s a good way of saying it. I mean you could argue like even nowadays nothing’s really changed to some extent. Like people are still selling things. Maybe it’s a little bit easier to get it to the consumer but, and then the marketing is just going through Instagram or let’s go through Facebook ads or just going through Amazon ads. But guess what? People are doing ads for a very long time. So now I feel like I’m going, I’m confusing myself a little bit. But the point being is that I think you have to experiment. I think what I’ve realized is that like four days a week you should be doing your core business and going crazy on that. And then one day a week you should be trying to podcast or trying an ad or trying something else. Cause most of the like next level growth come, it does come from something new. But I would say if you found something that works, keep investing the majority of the time around that.

Charles:                        36:31                Yeah. And a lot of the investment, it’s cumulative, right? We were talking about going to go into the float tank, that sort of thing or any of that. You do something once. And I always love the analogy of like brushing your teeth. You brush your teeth once, it literally does nothing for you, like very little. But if you don’t brush your teeth for your entire life, you’re going to have an issue very quickly. So it’s one of those things. But if you do it every day consistently, you’ll be, you know, great teeth, RCL life, that sort of thing. And a lot of these are like that, that if you’re just making the same consistent, you know, moving the ball forward a little bit each day, that’s what you actually have to go. And there’s no like little secret key you’re gonna find,

Noah:                           37:06                Oh, if you find a secret key, I think what’s actually the thing I would reflect on is that if I’m running any commerce store, I w would, I would hate to be an eCommerce store these days solely for the fact of how easy it is to copy each other. And so I think where I as an eCommerce store owner would be thinking about is like, what can I do that just no one can copy or what can I do that I can be number one app? And like, I bought this I I have a Tesla and I bought a car cover, but you couldn’t buy it on Amazon. And I was like, these mother fuckers. And I was like, Oh, but it’s good. Guess what? It’s harder to copy it on it if it’s on Amazon, if it’s not an Amazon. And I went and bought it through them and they control everything now. Yeah, they don’t, some of the distribution, but so be it. And so I think it’s also like there’s a store called ale hop, you heard of the store and they’ll hop and go. So it’s kind of in Europe. It’s a L E hop. So all they sell is impulse buys.

Noah:                           38:02                So it’s like basically, you know, the counter at the register. Yup. Everything by the counter, the restaurant, their whole store is that and everything is like under 10 bucks. And so it’s just like they’ve taken one thing and then now, and they’re kind of like trader Joe’s where a lot of the products are their own. But I easily see these guys getting so much, so much bigger from kind of the angle they’re taking, which is like we’ll either take other people’s products our own and they have to be impulse buys under 10 bucks. And now when they created their own products, you can’t copy their own products easily. Cause they just have so many damn many of them as a good price.

Charles:                        38:36                And so, and that’s what builds the most, right. Where now, now they have a defensible position where they have their products.

Noah:                           38:43                Most are kind of interesting. One was I think we all admire that and it sounds good and yada yada. But I, I think what it is is like what are you creating that’s unique? And frankly, if you’re just trying to make some money, just go do some drop shipping, let it run out, milk the cow and take all the cash. But I think if you’re trying to create something sustainable, it’s like, what are you doing that you are the best at? Like with AppSumo, I’ve always believed like if there is a better place to promote your product, like I will go work there, but there’s not actually, it was the best place to play to promote software. And so I think in all aspects like, Hey, we have the best place to promote like a washes for our car was that Kevin runs like miracle mop, something like that to wash your cars. It’s like, yeah, there’s no one else can copy this. So anyways, I think it’s just kind of interesting if you’re trying to get some sustainably.

Charles:                        39:30                Yeah, I like that. So before we wrap up 2020, what’s next for Noah? Like where are things going, where are things headed? I know you guys are launching a new product, but like what else is coming down the line in the next 1218 months?

Noah:                           39:44                So it’s instead of new thing. It’s actually been interesting for our business and I’ll just be candid about how we’re thinking about it is that we have, if you look at our revenue, 85% of her going, it comes from AppSumo. 10% of our revenue comes from and then 5% of her revenue comes from these new products like meet fam, send Fox, which is email marketing for content creators, King Sumo or giveaway software, which is really popular, but all of Oregon is AppSumo. All of our expenses are on these other guys. So as we’re moving to 2021 I’m really excited about is we’re doubling down on our core and figuring out how we can make AppSumo the number one marketplace online to distribute software. So that is something that I’m really excited about, which is like we’re putting all of our products on AppSumo, which we, it sounds obvious, but we didn’t do that.

Noah:                           40:30                Putting all of our marketing, every single marketing is going into AppSumo and growing the app, similar audience where she, I think it is like the Disney model and Disney has an amazing graphic, which is Disney’s like creative team is at the core and that literally created this amazing web of like movies of the park of like accessories of cruises and everything is, is kind of a web that stems from the core hub, same as Amazon. They have their Hubstore to credit to AWS, which created their products, which created all these other things. So that, that’s, I’m really excited. I’m excited to launch fam in the next few weeks. I’m excited for all of us to be integrated better. I’d say the one, I’ll tell you one business idea that I’m thinking about a lot more is that there’s, there is so many more people creating so many more products, but I still think discovering cool products is actually very limited.

Noah:                           41:20                Right, right now you kind of say, Hey, I have a problem. Let me Google Amazon. Or maybe you follow maybe some influencer. And they put up one product a week cause they got paid for it. But there’s not really like a trusted source kind of like AppSumo I would say have really unique, amazing products for kind of like, you know, 25 to 40 year old male and female. That’s highly curated and potentially has a really good offering on it. Like a good special. So I’ve been kind of noodling on how we can help promote core products physical products. So that’s something that I’m noodling on. So you think of the AppSumo for physical products. You okay? Well, let’s say you created a new, like a lettuce cleaner. What are those called? The lettuce spinners. Yeah. Spinner. Yup. Yeah. Charles loves lettuce and it’s like, so if you create a new lettuce spinner, how do you promote it? Like how, like legitimate anyone created any commerce store. You go to Shopify or woo commerce or whatever. Another one, you put it on there and then you’re like, all right, now I’ve got to get people to buy. What do we do? Yeah, that’s a good map.

Charles:                        42:21                Yeah, that’d be nice to have. The is Amazon. You tend to launch on Amazon or even your own site even worse, and there’s a good chance, unless you’re really good at it, they might be crickets. So having that same thing, that Dell site where you know they’re going to put it out on X, you know, this day and it’s going to hit an email list of, I don’t know how many, hundreds of thousands of people, maybe even more, and all of a sudden they’re going to see your product. You’re going to get sales like that. Yeah. I don’t know if there is something like that right now. The physical products.

Noah:                           42:51                Yeah, exactly, dude. So I think that’s where I was like, well for me, my love, I loved money products. I just, I love promoting products. I love it. I count myself because that’s how you guys grew the business initially, right? It was AppSumo was like the thing. It is the thing, it’s still the thing. Okay. Yeah. I, with AppSumo, we’ve tried so many marketing gimmicks over 10 years and at the end of the day it’s literally always been the exact same thing, which is promote better products. And that has been the only way that, you know, obviously we do some ads and affiliate and blah blah blah. But better products have really helped us grow our business. And so from there it’s like, all right, well there’s not really anywhere to do that on a physical level. And so I love promoting. Cool. I love finding cool things and sharing it. So that’s kind of where I’m leaning moving forward. Awesome. Well, what do you, what’s up with you in 20, 20? Yeah, that’s a good question.

Charles:                        43:49                We are growing the core business and grow in this podcast, so hopefully I haven’t, well guess like on and then also spent, I don’t know if you could actually see on the camera, but spark shipping here also growing up, growing that way as well. So,

Noah:                           44:02                Oh, so you’re, you’re on the podcast spark shipping. And what was the first one that, that those are the two things, both the and then you have like a specific goal in mind for those two things.

Charles:                        44:11                There are revenue goals. I should have a better goal for the podcast. This is one thing I don’t, I don’t have on the desktop. And maybe that needs to go in there. Actually now you make me think that

Noah:                           44:20                It doesn’t have to do, that’s why I asked you on the, on that cause like I’ll tell you for podcasts, you asked about goals last year my goal was 100,000 downloads per episode of my podcast on the Noah presents podcast, 100,000 downloads an episode. And then after three months I was at 25,000 and I was like, there is no way possible I will ever get to 100,000. And it kind of almost burnt me out. And for me, my podcast is my hobby. It’s not my job, it’s not my business. It’s like literally I get to meet, I’m like, I’m today I’m meeting a football coach and I’m just like super excited. Like, I really am like really excited. I was like, I say my nervous, I don’t think I’m nervous to like go hang out with this dude. And so this year, actually my goal, my only goal with my podcast was to do one content thing a week.

Charles:                        45:05                Okay. One content be an interview or,

Noah:                           45:07                And it could be anything. It could be an email, it could be a podcast, it could be I’m nearly to YouTube, but it could be a blog post and I did, I’m done one every week and I have not looked at any other number besides that.

Charles:                        45:17                Hmm. I like that. And that’s an all that you can control.

Noah:                           45:20                I can control. Again, I can’t control when people download my show, I can control how many guests I put on or how many unique shows I put on. I can control much ads. I run to it, but I can control like if it’s really hard to force people to go down with other things.

Charles:                        45:34                Yeah, I like that. Okay. Well I think I may revisit some my goal setting right now, so, awesome. Well thank you very much for coming on. If people want to find you some links, wish are they actually, where is the NOAA homepage?

Noah:                           45:48                Yes. Go to and sign up for a newsletter there. If you’re interested in learning more about me on podcasts where there’s no Kagan presents podcast, if you have a store meet I would go check that out. And then, okay. Dork.Com is where it kind of centralized all of my like experiences and stories over the years.

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