Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, Engineer, and Speaker – Kevin Henrikson

Shoemoney Show: Entrepreneur, Angel investor, Engineer, and Speaker Kevin Henrikson talks to Jeremy Schoemaker about some of the highlights of his career including how Microsoft bought his Email App venture Acompli For 200 million dollars and before that the sale of his company Zimbra to Yahoo.

Jeremy: [01:15] Hey everybody. What’s up? Today is April 7th, 2015. I am Jeremy Schoemaker, known on the internet as shoe money. And you are listening to the shoe on a show on webmaster radio, also available on iTunes, Stitcher, and all the other places I can’t pronounce where you can download podcasts. With me today is Kevin Henrikson. One of my friends that basically I met because he attended my first ever elite retreat way back in the day. Kevin, what year was that?

Kevin:    2007 or 2005? I don’t know.

Jeremy: [01:50] Yeah, I think that was, I think that was—

Kevin:    It was almost 10 years ago. Yeah, we can look it up. In San Antonio, right?

Jeremy: [02:01] So you want to listen to showcase, Kevin just sold a company for 200 million. All right, Kevin, give us a little bet just in case people are like, “Oh, they’re just going to bullshit around.” Okay. So Kevin, give us your background and why you do, I’m not gonna pay attention. I’m actually look that up. Go ahead.

Kevin:    You’re going to look at my background or look at when you did the—?

Jeremy: No, you talk about your background. Dude, this show is so well thought out.

Kevin:    [02:22] Yeah, I’m glad we started this right off, right? So, no, I’m cool. Well, Jeremy, thanks a ton for having me on. I mean, yeah, Jeremy and I had been friends for a while and yeah, he was a customer of this elite retreat. But so I’ve been in the software kind of world for a while, kind of internet software, just building software. Worked at a couple of startups mostly around mobile and email. And most recently co founded a company called Acompli, which was a mobile email app for iPhone android, and Microsoft acquired us towards the end of last year, and now we’re outlook. So if you can go download our app, it’s outlook on iOS or Android and yeah, it’s awesome. And I’ve had a great time kind of building various kinds of email and internet-based software platforms for awhile. And also built a company with my wife called alpha brand media.

Jeremy: Do you guys own Search Engine Journal?

Kevin:    Alpha brand media does own search engine journals. So yeah. So that’s the kind of the flagship site. And my wife’s the CEO of that company, and kind of where I kind of have this cool mix between kind of a day job of building software and kind of the VC backed Silicon Valley world of building software companies, but then kind of have this other business that, like I said, my wife now runs that was really focused on the internet publishing and we had at one point had over 300 websites that we had just started acquiring tons of sites in 2008, and have this kind of just kind of attraction to doing ads and publishing and kind of how blogs work, and all kinds of cool affiliate stuff.

[03:59] And it’s amazing the kind of things that you can take from the kind of traditional internet marketing world and how that applies to building a traditional kind of VC backed company in the Valley here. And I think a lot of the cool things we do with Acompli and Jeremy helped us like building our beta list out and just tons of things that we were able to do and kind of little growth hacks, and I hate that kind of term, but little tricks and things that you learn along the way in terms of how to apply that to your everyday business, I think was— I learned most of them in internet marketing and you know, meeting the folks at the various elite retreats I’ve been to was super helpful in my last couple of companies.

Jeremy: [04:38] This like I didn’t know. It was just like, “Hey, let’s have an event, let’s charge people $5,000.” And you know, and everyone was like, “Oh my God, these guys are insane.” But it worked and it was cool, and you’ve seen it evolve over the years. But the interesting thing was is— is this still hard to hear me?

Kevin:    No, it sounds fine.

Jeremy: Okay. I don’t know. Yeah, let me look at my settings real quick while we do that. Because when my headset cuts out, sometimes my computer wants to take over to listening. So anyway, yeah. But Kevin is like, blew me away. Because he comes over and he’s like, “dude, check this out.” And he’s like showing me this stuff he’s doing and I’m like, I mean it was really, really, really genius, and I was like, “Hey, I wouldn’t be showing many people this.” I think that was my initial thought.

Kevin:    [05:30] Yeah, exactly. You’re said, you’re like, “have you showed anybody else this?” And I was like, “no, you’re the first guy I met with today”, because we were doing these little talks. I mean, and the whole elite retreat thing was like I kind of— I don’t know how I stumbled upon it. I think I was just toying with kind of putting up websites and blogs and playing internet advertising, just seeing how that worked. And I saw this thing and it was like, “Oh, to meet with some people that seem like they’ve been doing it for a living.” I said that’d be cool. And I didn’t have a ton of time, right? I was working full time at a startup and I said, “well 5,000 seems like a ton of money, but I’d much rather do that and show up for kind of two days and kind of fire hose.”

[06:06] And it exactly was that right? It was just a completely different deep dive into that world and yeah. I mean we chatted about some of the cool stuff I was trying with at the time and yeah, it ended up being a quite a little project. And like I said, I learned a lot, right? I think one of my favorite lines I was coined from back then was like, PPC is free, right? Like as long as you have the right ROI model and as long as, if you’re spending a dollar and making a dollar and one, then you’re doing it right. And so it’s silly how people that are in kind of affiliate or internet marketing or doing paid search, you obviously know that you live and die by your tracking and how accurate your stats are, and are you building ROI, and can you detect fraud or if you’re getting triggered by fraud alerts or anything like that.

[06:49] Man, that makes so— that was like probably the biggest thing I learned through that whole business and running that kind of project was that now you look into thing and you’re like, “why would you build anything without the right kind of metrics or statistics or analytics in place?” And like you see this whole movement with data scientists and data engineers and people doing deep kind of insights into like the big data. And I’m like, “man, that’s just, you have to do that”, right? If you’re building something and don’t know how you’re winning or why you’re spending money and not tracking it’s just like this, you’re flying blind, and especially when you’re doing the companies. Yeah, it’s good.

Jeremy: [07:23] It also had like, I just met with this company, it’s a half billion dollar hedge fund and they have this new startup, and this new startup is like in this first six months, it’s profiting six figures a month. And it’s a really cool concept. I don’t want to say who they are because they’re— Hopefully they don’t listen to show, but they’re not— But I mean, like as far as like complimentary there, I mean I asked them “how many visitors you get?”, because they came in through because they wanted the par program and they were referred by a large investor. And I kind of qualify them, “how much traffic are you getting?” And the guy’s like, “Okay, hold on, let me pull that up.” And he comes back and he’s like, “1,000,307” you know? he’s like ranked a site in the world. And I’m like, “where in the fuck— are you reading Alexis stats?” And he’s like, “yeah.” And I’m like, “No, no. I mean like from your Google analytics.” And he’s like, “Oh, it says we have 2.7 page views per person. Is that what you need?” I mean, literally that’s the CEO of this company. And it’s a company that’s making, profiting over $1 million a year.

Kevin:    [08:34] But I think a lot of that is you focus on the thing, “Hey, it’s making money, let’s keep going.” And then some people never go back and add that. And you know, part of it’s just that “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” But it’s amazing. Like when you see stories like that and you’re like, “well, what if you were tracking that and what if you were looking for opportunities to even improve or make it better?”

Jeremy: [08:53] Yeah. So our talk kind of went from that to them just being like, “can you come here next week and sit down with us and we’ll talk?” And in conversations they’ve gotten bigger, and I don’t know there if it’s a good fit for me, they have a significant package they’re willing to offer for me. But I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire, and you know, it’s not that— that whole thing is not like with you, I love working with startups and you gave me a shout out to helping you get users like, that’s all I did, I reached out to my stuff, I got you some beta users.

Kevin:    [09:31] Yeah. Thousands and it was awesome. I mean, I was like, “Hey you know, we need to basically just throw some more users at the thing.” And I’m like, “how can I get more users and have somebody the reach?” And I was like, “I know Jeremy’s got reach.” And then like we can just find a way to basically push it out. And I think it worked really well, right? And I think yeah, I mean it’s crazy like the people that would come in and you know, we have this in-app chat thing instead of outlook app and people could say, “Hey, I love it” or “I hate it.” And “tell Jeremy thanks” like some people even thought like— because they never referred through you, right? And they’re like, “yeah, [inaudible] Shoemoney told me about your app.” And yeah, it was awesome.

Jeremy: [10:08] Remember the people that like, I don’t know if they bugged you, they bugged me about like, “bro, can you get me in?”

Kevin:    [10:14] Yeah, we were gaining— At first we didn’t want to roll it out and were you know, as a small company we weren’t ready to take that many users on at one pop. And so we were rolling it out slowly. Like we were releasing a few hundred a week. And then a few thousand a week and people were like, “how do I get to the top of the list?” And like, “I’ve referred 40 people, Jeremy said if I referred two I’d get in.” And I was like, “we’re trying to do our best.” And eventually we got everybody got in. But yeah, people were reaching out to me on LinkedIn, on chat or all kinds of places. But once they figured out like there’s a a Twitter, you’re trying to just say, “Hey, how can we get moved up the list?” But it’s cool, right? When you get to build something and see that audience work.

Jeremy: [10:47] And Kevin sold the company. So it’s not like we’re here to pitch the thing. But with that said, from day one I used it, and so to Dell Navi, like [inaudible.

Kevin:    Yeah, Dave’s a good buddy.

Jeremy: Former partner of mine, great guy, good friend of mine. And the thing with Dave is that he’s super critical of like other people’s shit, and his own. And when he used it, he actually used it before me and I got this email, it was like sent from acompli, because I’ve told people I invite them to, but I didn’t run it. And before it was like out of beta. And so when he used it and he liked it, I was like, “okay, it must be pretty good. Because he’s very picky about stuff.” And so I mean, I’ve used it from day one and now it’s branded as outlook, right?

Kevin:    [11:41] Yeah. It’s awesome. Yeah. Now people are like, wait, “what happened to Acompli?” and it’s like, “Well no, it’s now outlook. And we’ve done a bunch of new stuff to it and Microsoft investing in it like crazy.” But I think it’s yeah, it’s been cool. I mean to see that, to kind of take a brand be able to you know, one in seven people in the world use outlook, right? And you think about in terms of the reach of a product or a brand is just insane, and to be able to present what used to be Acompli now is outlook on iPhone and android, is really cool. It’s something that it’s been a great journey so far and I think it’s exciting to see what we’re going to continue to kind of move down that path.

Jeremy: [12:15] Yeah. And I mean you known, Kevin talked about his history a bit, but you know, he was with a company that was called Zimbra, which sold to Yahoo and you went on that ride to Yahoo, and then when Yahoo sold it to VMware you were a part of that, right? And then I was hitting you up for VMware licenses.

Kevin:    He simply said “Hey, can you get me—”

Jeremy: Mine just expired by the way.

Kevin:    [12:39] Mine just expire too. It must’ve been a year or two since I’ve left, right?

Jeremy: [12:42] Yeah. And then you were like, “let’s roll”. What made you get on board with building this? And for those who don’t know, it’s an amazing— I like to explain it to people as— when I was up in Chicago, I showed these guys there, and they were just like, “what?” And they download it immediately. But basically, I like to explain it as a cross between male.app and Gmail, as far as just email functionality. So you get your mail sorted by priority, but it’s better interface than Gmail. But then when you integrate with Dropbox and you integrate with your other stuff, it’s awesome for me to be able to attach a PowerPoint presentation that’s in my Dropbox so easy. Or like, somebody emails me and I just flipped to the side and I schedule a time to talk to them.

[13:35] It’s just like, it’s an amazing application. Okay, we’ve got to go to break here. And actually, I think we’ve got another minute or so, but yeah. So, and then Kevin, when we get back we got to go to a commercial break and when we come back we’re gonna talk to Kevin about what it’s like now and some other shit

Kevin:    [13:59] We can talk about how it started and yeah, it’ll be fun.

Jeremy: What plane you have in your shopping cart. All right, we’ll be back in about two minutes everybody.

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[16:31] Here’s more of the Shoemoney show on webmasterradio.FM

Jeremy: [16:50] So when I launched this Shoemoney system in like 2009, I had a contest because I wanted, because I had this call support center where I had nine— I mean, we were selling over a thousand units a day. So I basically said, “Hey, whoever makes the best Shoemoney system theme song, I’ll give you 1000 bucks and I’ll take you to the Playboy mansion.” I said, “You and a friend, I’ll cover all your flights and the hotel rooms.” So dude, I had— I mean, Brasco knows the ones I sent him, but I mean there is like probably a hundred entries, but like maybe 10 that are really good. And I mean really good. Like, dude, there’s this one that’s like “shoe money system”, Dude, and that was our old music, like when you called in for support.

Kevin:    That is awesome.

Jeremy: [17:43] Oh dude, it was awesome. So dude, that was dekay one. And if you go to YouTube, his Youtube username Dekay, which is D, E, K, A, Y. And it’s like the only thing on that YouTube thing. It’s him in a ski mask rapping the entire song, it is hilarious.

Kevin:    That’s great dude.

Jeremy: [18:05] Anyway, yeah, so that’s the songs. So it’s interesting because you came to the elite retreat and then within a couple of years you’re at every freaking internet marketing event, which is awesome because me and you together are dangerous.

Kevin:    Yeah, no, we’ve had fun. No, it’s funny, the elite retreat just got me like— It’s funny because I was never a kind of a conference— I’d go to conferences like in my kind of software space or startup space, but never the internet stuff. And I think the elite retreat was the first time that I said, “Well, when you can get a bunch of folks together and just having them talk about what they’re doing or what they’re working on, or their challenges” It makes you, it forces you to kind of pause and think.

[18:44] And then it’s like, yeah, it turned into this model. I mean, I met so many different people and network and people that are still business partners with me today and partners in my wife and I’s business that we met after elite retreat and after going to all these conferences. And I think it’s crazy, right? Because, and it’s funny, I’d go to the conferences, wouldn’t go to any of the events, like would just go to the after parties or kind of network with people in the bar. And it’s like, that’s where you get all this kind of the real value of out of that. And you’re right. I mean, I literally for a couple of years there, I probably hit four or five a year, right? In terms of hitting the internet conferences. Now I’m down to just a couple, right?

[19:17] I go to the SEJ summit events and I go to, I’m actually going to speak, I think— Or I’m going to try to speak, see if my wife will let me apply in one of the events later this year, but I think they’ve had a couple now. So yeah, it’s great. I mean, they’ve got events in Santa Monica just recently. They just finished one in Dallas. They’re going to Chicago in a week.

Jeremy: Who is this?

Kevin:    This is SEJ summit. So like the search engine Journal’s now running their own summit series show.

Jeremy: This is your [inaudible]

Kevin:    [19:44] Yeah, we’re doing a show. Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s like an invite only thing, you’ve got to apply to be part of it. It’s a free event and it’s really, really epic, right? And so yeah, they’re doing one in Chicago, they’re going to New York, Miami, they’re going to London this summer. So I’m hoping I can go to that one, even if just as a fly on the wall, just so I can get a trip over to Europe as part of it. But yeah, it’s been really cool.

Jeremy: Who is the brain behind that? Is that all your wife?

Kevin:    [20:09] Yeah, so Denise basically came up with the idea and got some sponsors together. Searchmetrics actually sponsored the series this year. And so yeah, she’s got a great team that kind of the search engine journal folks have put together and yeah, it’s really, really cool. They have some killer speakers. [inaudible], another buddy of both of us spoke at the Santa Monica one and just killed it, right? I mean, the guy’s a great speaker and just really knows how to entertain an audience. So yeah, you should go to the Chicago one, dude. It’s right in your area.

Jeremy: When is it?

Kevin:    Seriously, like in week or two.

Jeremy: I have to go there on the 22nd for the big brother casting thing.

Kevin:    Dude, you’re going on Big brother?

Jeremy: [20:50] Yeah, didn’t we just talk about this or am I having déjà vu?

Kevin:    No, you told me about I before, I think.

Jeremy: We were, like before the show started.

Kevin:    Yeah. You were just getting into it. Like come on, that’s insane.

Jeremy: No, no. Yeah, straight up. So, I did like an open thing, recorded myself on video and uploaded it to their thing. And then I did the first casting call in Denver, which was just a public circus of freaking what you see on the singing show, frickin whatever, not the voice, but I’m sure it’s like that too.

Kevin:    American Idol.

Jeremy: [21:21] Yeah. American idol. So that’s pretty much how this was. It was basically in there and you were, they did like team ones, so you are like one of five people and everything, and they’re like “what do you do? Tell us about yourself. What would you do in this situation?” or blah, blah, blah, blah. You know, just like really, I mean, I got out of there and I was like, “yeah, I got no shot.” And then I got the second round, which is now, it’s a private one. So you go in there and I guess there’s only a hundred people that are going.

Kevin:    So it’s down to a hundred people, and how many they’re going to—

Jeremy: In Chicago.

Kevin:    Okay.

Jeremy: [21:57] So they’re going around the country, right? But yeah, so in Chicago, I don’t know what this is going to involve, but like my wife has given me a green light to have a show man, if I need to do that to win, like there’s all these interesting angles, right? As to why they should pick me. So they were like, “seriously, your wife’s an anesthesiologist and she would and you’re an internet millionaire and she would let you have an affair to win.” And I’m like, “that’s what she said”.

Kevin:    To win. But if you lose that, you got to unwind it all.

Jeremy: [22:30] No, no. But to try to win. You know, dude, not like some chick there, because the whole thing is I wouldn’t be me. I’d roll in as like a freaking nine to five computer jockey and you know, and I already have a game strategy, but anyway.

Kevin:    Don’t reveal it all, people are going to be able to come back to the show and figure this out.

Jeremy: Well but see, the people that are— The outside world will know everything, but have you ever watched big brother?

Kevin:    Yes.

Jeremy: [22:57] Yeah. Because you’re completely shielded. You don’t even have a freaking iPod. 

Kevin:    Yeah, You’re locked up.

Jeremy: Which that’s going to be the hardest thing for me, is not having no internet, no iPod, no newspaper, no nothing from the outside world. No phone, no nothing for was it like three months? So, if you make it to the end.

Kevin:    if you make it all the way through.

Jeremy: [23:23] But actually you only have to make it halfway and then you’re in the jury house, and then you’ve got to stay sequestered. So, I mean, really like I know I’d make it that far.

Kevin:    That’s awesome.

Jeremy: I would be embarrassed if I didn’t.

Kevin:    No, so I looked it up. So April 15th in Chicago, so it’s actually next week. So they’d probably only have a few invites left, but yeah. So April 15th in Chicago, May 12th in London.

Jeremy: [23:48] But I’m on the 22nd. It’s a private thing.

Kevin:    You should do it, dude.

Jeremy: So it’s not— so, we have mutual friends that work for CVS, you probably know— you know [inaudible]. Okay. And so through them I got a contact with the casting company who does the big brother casting stuff, and you know, they were like, “Listen, I’m can’t do anything to help you, but I’ll give you some insight.” And so they said, look, we have specific roles that are handed down to us from CVS.

Kevin:    That we have to fill.

Jeremy: Yeah. And they’re like, “if you meet one of those predefined roles, if they’re looking for a internet millionaire, you’re in.” But he’s like, one year we were looking for like a mixed martial artist. You know, we were looking for like a gardener. And then he also said, and I’m just gonna say it, he’s like, “we have to get an African American, male and female. We have to get a lesbian, we have to get a gay guy.” You know, I mean that’s just the criteria.

Kevin:    Whatever works, right? As long as it’s coming.

Jeremy: [24:49] He’s like, “look at every year, if you’re not black, if you’re not gay, if you’re not a lesbian, basically, then we’ve got 12 other spots to fill.” So, I understand the whole diversity thing and all that, whatever. You know, so I think I would do well. If you’re a guy, you got a pretty good shot, even if you’re not hot, right?

Kevin:    Is that like statistically? have you actually looked at that and figured out like what’s the chance of making it through and what is the strategy? I mean, you’re like a addicted to this show.

Jeremy: Sure. I think I’ve missed maybe two seasons out of, I think this is 17th or 18th.

Kevin:    That’s insane.

Jeremy: [25:45] Yeah, So I know the game. I know all the things. The crazy thing is like, I know like when what happens. Anyway, so I mean, I don’t think I have a chance, but if there’s a chance like— Oh, this is another cool thing. If you have your own company and you are the majority owner, you can wear your company’s logo. Sure.

Kevin:    That’s also as— As long as you’re— Yeah, it’s a private company and you own it.

Jeremy: Right, if you’re just an employee somewhere or whatever, then they have that you can’t do that. So, I was telling some people, they’re like, “Dude, I’d give you like 50 grand, start a company.”

Kevin:    You should start a company, right? 

Jeremy: [26:27] Oh dude. Like Holy shit. Like if you could— Look at the exposure. I mean, a Superbowl commercial is how much?

Kevin:    I don’t know if big brother’s the same as the Superbowl, but I get where you’re going.

Jeremy: [26:40] But over time. Okay, check this out, It’s on three times a week on CBS that pulls like, their numbers are high, their numbers are really high. But then also 24// live feed, and then you’ve got the after dark program, which is on Showtime. Now it’s on their ghetto network, whatever it is. But I mean, dude there’s like hundreds of thousands of people that watch this thing.

Kevin:    [27:10] So, what do you do? You got to pause your show for three months? You can’t do the radio show or you gotta do it, but nobody can tell you what’s going on in the real world?

Jeremy: you know, I’d probably do like prerecorded ones like every day, although, to be honest I could probably— I don’t know how webmaster radio feels about it. I’m actually not watching the chat, but if maybe I get somebody to fill in for me, maybe you can fill in.

Kevin:    Do a little guest podcast thing to chat about life. Yeah.

Jeremy: I’ve had people fill in from me before. John Chow filled in. That was okay. I mean he’s a little hard to understand sometimes, but I love that guy though. He’s been on the—

Kevin:    [27:51] You were with us that time. We went racing and those with those exotic racing in Vegas that time, there was some affiliate, somebody, I forgot, a hosting company or something bought us those tickets. That was awesome. That was Dekay, actually.

Jeremy: Yeah, Dekay. [inaudible] goes out of business and they owe me like 20 grand, the freaking mother— Anyway.

Kevin:    Yeah, you’ve got at least a couple laps in a Lamborghini though.

Jeremy: Yeah, that 458 dude, I love that car. I’m going to have that car. Well now they’ve got the 488 coming out this month, I think. But yeah, I don’t know. Okay, so you sell a company for— I don’t know, how much time we got here? like the three or four minutes until we got to take another break? Because what I really want to get into is like, okay, you sell a company for $200 million. For me, right now, and probably the position you were in six months ago, we were probably close to the same within a bit net worth, probably close.

Kevin:    Yeah, I think that that’s reasonable.

Jeremy: I mean I have no idea where you’re at, but just guessing. Just totally guessing. So the thing is like $1 million, $2 million, put it in the bank, it doesn’t change my life tomorrow whatsoever, right? Nothing changes. I don’t do anything different.

Kevin:    Nothing changes but your change, dude it’s just like the book, dude.

Jeremy: [29:18] No, but I’m saying like I couldn’t tell you within half a million dollars how much money I have in the bank. Now that sounds a bit— but I’m also just like, my wife handles everything, so she’s probably [inaudible]

Kevin:    That’s probably smart.

Jeremy: [29:31] Yeah. So that can sound like I’m a jackass or whatever. And I don’t have like a ton of cash. I’m just saying like, once you hit like, let’s just call it like three or 4 million, if you’ve got that much in the bank, okay, then you— I mean, after I sold Auction ads and I did some other things, I had enough cash in the bank where I live a nice lifestyle, nothing extravagant, and our accountant basically was like, “okay, you guys have more than enough with your kids, everything to stop working tomorrow, if you don’t like drastically increase—”. So, that’s my thing, is like I’m really happy with what I have. If I got $1 million tomorrow, makes absolutely zero difference in my life. You just got $200 million.

Kevin:    [30:20] I didn’t get it all. We had investors and I have co-founders, but I know what you’re saying.

Jeremy: you got more that $2 million.

Kevin:    Yes. I mean, but I mean [inaudible] doesn’t change much. I think take some nicer vacations. It’s funny, this morning Virgin America or maybe yesterday they announced that they were now flying to Hawaii. So I’m all excited because I love Virgin America, and I’m still booking it on points and I was like actually having this conversation with my wife over email because we both love email about that we were like 40,000 points short of like booking the ticket for the family or whatever to go to Hawaii. So like now I’m like scheming how I’m going to go and gain up another 40,000. So I mean, I still you know, and in theory, could I just go buy the tickets, of course. But like, I still like winning. I like winning.

[31:12] And I think your point is well taken, right? I mean at some point you’ve done well, you’ve made money, you’ve bought the things you want. Like if you wanted it you would’ve just ordered it off Amazon, or you would have just bought, right? But I think that the next piece of that is how do you keep yourself excited and motivated? And you have the same thing. I mean you have a bunch of irons in the fire because you love to win. You love to see something that you think of or an idea that you work on or a group that you work with be successful, right? Winning for Acompli was hey, building a great app. Yeah, we got acquired. That was awesome. But I think now you look inside of what we’re doing with outlook, I think we still think of winning as the goal around it. Like, we want to make outlook, the best email client on iPhone and android, and the biggest, and the most users, and the highest ranked, and the highest ratings.

[31:49] And that’s how we keep a team that obviously as part of an acquired company you’ve done great, but I think the financial piece is just one mark and that’s kind of short lived. It’s like, how do you keep excite? How do you keep chasing it? And I think that’s the component that I think you followed well, I mean, you’ve consistently moved on to new projects and you know, you’re just when something’s doing great or “Hey, [inaudible] is doing awesome.” You’re like, “No, I’m going to go chase another—” [inaudible]

[32:23] But yeah, it’s part of it, you like to win, you like to think of ideas and move quickly and attack them. And I think that was when, like I said, I first went to [inaudible], I saw that and said, look I was kind of working on what I was working on. It’s kind of a side project. And that was great to see the other folks doing the same thing and being able to, there’s value in focusing at times, but I think there’s also value in finding what excites you and what you want to go and chase, because that’s just a great way to kind of be motivated.

Jeremy: [32:54] Yeah, and it’s also like, when you come in— Not when you’re wealthy or rich or whatever, when you have enough to where you buy something on Amazon and you’re not worried about “can I afford this?” Right? Or when you go out to eat and you never even think of how much it costs, right? So I mean, when I was in Chicago, I picked up a round of drinks or rounds of drinks with two other people and it’s like $300 and I was like, “Jesus Christ.” But you know, just whatever, you know? And I mean, this probably sounds like we’re fucking rich assholes and you know, whatever. But the thing is that, my point is that when you get to that, how do you not fuck up your kids? That’s the biggest concern I have right now, is that I can buy my kids stuff and 95% of the shit I buy them is for me.

[33:45] It’s not because they even— Like, I have two little girls, I bought them one of those, you know those Nerf darts guns? They have one that they call like the Vulcan, which is like, it’s like a 50 cal. It’s like a 50 cal. for these things. It shoots like five seconds. Dude, I’ve got two little girls. I mean, it’s funny because my dad will come over, this 65-70 year olds guy and all of a sudden the kids pulled out, It’s like, “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa.” And blowing darts all over his face, right?

[34:17] Alright, we’ve got to take our next break. When we come back, I want to touch more about what Kevin was talking about, about why we keep going after the next thing and stuff like that. So we’ll be back in a few minutes and stay tuned.

Voice:    [34:36] Time to catch some more checks. Shoemoney will be back on the webmasterradio.FM

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[37:44] Here’s more of the Shoemoney show on a webmasterradio.FM

Jeremy: Seriously.

Kevin:    [37:57] Is every intro and outro just like a custom different one? Like, you have [inaudible]

Jeremy: [38:02] Dude, I have like, I mean literally I think I gave [inaudible] like 10 that are just really good. Like I said, there’s like a hundred that were submitted. The Dekay one is just an honorary Dekay thing. It’s not because it’s good. Anyway, that’s why you only heard the beat, for Dekay. We gotta get some of the hooks [inaudible] or some of the other ones where it actually talks about Showmoney. But yeah, I think that my awesome producer [inaudible] is making it all work.

[38:36] So, all right, so you’re listening to the Showmoney show. If you’re just tuning, rewind because we just gave up some crazy stuff. All right, so we’re talking about like Kevin is rich as fuck. He just sold his coming for $200 million, which he got all of. No, he has partners.

Kevin:    And [inaudible] I was a small. And a team. You raised money, right Jeremy? and wasn’t there a big raise that went out in Nebraska?

Jeremy: Yeah, well I raised just shy of $600,000 for the art program.

Kevin:    That’s awesome.

Jeremy: Yeah, I mean it was from my wife.

Kevin:    you wrote a blog story about that, right?

Jeremy: [39:18] Yeah, it was good. I’m actually like, I know you’re against it, but I want to raise money for my new thing.

Kevin:    [39:25] You should always raise money for your new thing. I think raising money—

Jeremy: Wait, who was it? Somebody told me, I thought it was you

Kevin:    I might’ve told you that. I’m like, go build it awesome, raise money when you don’t need it, right?

Jeremy: [39:38] But you know what I’m working on and you know what I want to do with it, and I think I need a significant amount of capital to make that happen.

Kevin:    [39:47] Yeah. I mean, I think that’s actually a good discussion if we can spend a minute on that. So I think, when do you raise money? Right? Or why do you raise money? So I think idea— And then it depends on who you’re raising money from, right? I mean, friends and family venture— you know, kind of like before you get into the venture stuff you have friends and family or seed round or something, that’s people that you know, fake, borrow, steal, whatever. And I think that’s hey, get your project to a certain stage of your company to a certain stage. And I think when you go to look for VC money, there’s a very different kind of lens that they put on that, right? They want businesses that are big, right? So they want the story of how this thing could potentially turn into something that’s a multi hundred million dollar or billion dollar business.

[40:33] And you say that and say, “well, how many of startups actually have done that?” Percentage wise, very few. But I think what’s important is that there’s a possibility that it could have happened, right? Like it’s a big enough market there’s a lot of money in the market, a lot of winning space, and that it’s something that could support a lot of capital, a lot of businesses can’t support spending and dealing with spending something that’s $10 or $20 million, especially in this day and age where it’s you know, you can go register a domain online for 10 bucks and throw up a website. I mean, for $100 you can kind of “be in business” with a website in some kind of small SAS service, right? And then your time to write some code.

[41:09] But, so I think in today’s day and age, where do you spend that money? It’s on people. Engineering talent is expensive, marketing is expensive, right? And so I think you end up breaking it into like resources to build the product and resources to market the product or acquire users, right? And then because all this money is out there being raised to acquire users, the cost of acquiring users is high, right? So I think the thing that you’re speaking of without giving the details is I think you’ve identified a way to acquire users much, much cheaper than what you can get in return, right? Like it’s this kind of my joke about PPC being free, like your acquisition model allows you to acquire users for pennies versus the amount of money you’re producing.

[41:52] And so I think when you look at a business like that and say, okay, well how scalable is that? Right? So if you can acquire users for a dollar and you can produce $100 of revenue, great. Well, how many more users can you acquire for that dollar that fit that market? Right? I think that’s the piece that you’ve got to go prove out that says, look, there’s how many more people out there or how many more users out there that would fit this model and go through it. So that if I went and raised a significant chunk of VC capital, five, 10 million bucks, and here’s where I would put the engineering talent or the technical talent on building out the product side, and here’s where I would spend that money. Because as you know, for any given channel, whether it’s a Facebook ad or a Google ad or a billboard, the cost of acquiring users, it goes up pretty quickly as you need to get more and more users, right? Like to get the first user, you can buy the cheapest user for sale on Facebook ads, right?

[42:39] But if you’re acquiring hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of users a day, those costs start to crawl up on you, right? And I think that’s the key thing of proving out that your user acquisition stays at this pretty good cost even as you scale it, right? It’s an interesting project.

Jeremy: [42:57] I just looked for a domain, I’m looking for domains for the new project. I mean, you know what I’m doing, you love it. You think that it’s gonna [inaudible]

Kevin:    [43:02] Yeah, I mean, it’s going to be great. I think it’s a great idea. And I think the question is how do you frame it so that it can grow bigger than something that’s just a project, or how do you grow this into a company or a movement? And I think that’s the challenge. I think it’s clear it’s a big market. And there’s companies out there that are doing in parallel tracks doing similar things that are much bigger. So it’s easy to make that comparison say, “Yeah, I can grow this into a huge company.”

Jeremy: [43:28] Absolutely. And I’ve proven the model, I’ve already tested it with like a joke, you know? And okay, so that’s what I want to get into is like, my biggest thing, I’ve learned now at 40 years old, over doing this for 2002 when I first started, I didn’t make much money then, but you know, so 13 years of doing this, I just turned 40 and I had this big revelation about like the [inaudible] program, I have it now. The platform is unbelievable. But here’s what I thought, it was like, my true amazing thing that makes me happy and what I love to do is like next pimp. You know, that thing made me fucking millions of dollars, but that was a side effect, that was a side effect of like, what I really loved about that, the money’s cool, but what I loved about it is I got to make shit that people really used and they found a value.

[44:22] Okay. And then you look at the Shoemoney blog, like all that is just me giving people value. Nobody pays me to read that thing. But that thing is printed money as well. And then if you look at auction ads, I built auction ads and I called it Shoemoney ads, and it was because on next pimp I was making so much with Google adsense, but if I put other banners there, they didn’t get as much things. So I made my own thing that looked like Google, but it had my own ads in it, and it did well and I call it Shoemoney ads, then I let other people use it. Then eBay came to me and said, Hey, people are using this for eBay, you should make one around that, Auction ads was born.

[44:55] When I sold auction ads in 2007 it was kind of a rally killer in that I thought, “alright, now’s the time I put away a ton of freaking cash, I’m going to freaking build this Google of the Midwest.” And so I hired a lot of developers, video people, graphics people, built up a monster freaking payroll, like you know, a lot, and had tried to build like a real, what people would call a real company, you know? And that would went on for until for about four years.

[45:33] And you know, the part program is my last attempt and I’m really like, I don’t know why I’m even saying this on the air, but I’m kinda like over it, and I’m putting it in some good hands now. But basically, just doing sales calls, managing a team, dealing with maternity policies and vacation times, it absolutely kills me. So in the last 10 days, would be 11 days now, I did something that is made a shit load of money and is legit and adds value to people’s lives, and I’ll be in— And believe me, everyone knows me. I’ll be showing it like crazy on the show, web master radio will be like, “alright, seriously stop it.”

Kevin:    They’re like, this isn’t a promotional call.

Jeremy: [46:15] Right. But it’s like the best thing I love about it is I wrote every line of code myself. I love it. That’s what drives me. And all these things that have made money, the money was just a side effect of building a fun application that other— That’s what I love doing. And when you do that, I mean that’s a magical thing to me. I got away from that and those were the most miserable days— They weren’t bad and yes I still made money, sometimes even seven figures, but it didn’t really come from that, it came from doing other things. But basically my point is that the most successful and happiest times in my life were just when I really built things for other people to use.

Kevin:    [47:00] Yeah. And I think the other thing is the satisfaction. I mean, when we were first building Acompli and then outlook, right? I mean there’s nothing better than launching a feature and then seeing people say “I like it” or coming on Twitter and say they want to use it. And similarly, actually I get motivated, like we released a version, it’s like, “Oh, I think something slower or it’s getting a crash when I do this and that.” And it’s like you want— You force yourself to achieve even a higher level because you’re like, “man, these people are counting on me to build something and they really love what they’re using, and they’re willing to talk to me”, right? There’s nothing worse than building something and not getting feedback, right? Like, it’s like the proverbial giving a speech and nobody claps.

[47:41] The neutral response like, I would rather you hate on it and say you disagree with me and tell me that I’m terrible, at least I know you listened and you have an opinion, right? Like, I was able to strike a nerve, right? But building something or doing something and not getting and response is just a really painful place to sit. And so, what you’re saying is that you want to find something where you’re motivated, but you’re motivated in some, almost vicariously, these are the people that are using it because they’re either seeing value in it or they’re using more of it, or they’re giving you feedback on it, and it’s that that kind of drives you to stay up that extra hour at night or two hours at night and crank on something, because you know that when you click the release button and you push that out, it’s like, “wow, I’m going to get feedback. People are listening, they’re waiting for this. I have an audience” right? And I think yeah, I agree.

Jeremy: [48:29] You andI are very similarly wired. And this is the thing, like people are always like, “well you can do this cause you’re Shoemoney.” And I’m like, dude, I wish like you. And I don’t wish I was them, but I have a wife, I have children, okay? I have a lot of employees, I’ve got to make $5,000 a fucking day to break even, okay? Before I take a dollar myself, right? Wake up with that tomorrow and let me know how you feel, alright? And then you want to do all this. Like, so many people who are who say like, “well, you can do this and that”

[49:09] I’m like, dude, the position you’re in, you have a day job. And they’re like, “well, I’m debating whether or not to quit my day job to try to make money online.” And I’m like, really? Are you effing kidding me? You know? And that’s the thing, and that’s why Kevin knows this latest thing I’m working on is without alluding to it, but why it’s so successful. But you know, the thing that bothers me is people are like, and they hear us talk, right? And then they think, “well, you’re in this position.” When I launched Auction ads Shoemoney had a reach, but I wasn’t freaking Mike Arrington, or you know, somebody like that. If they launched it everybody would sign up for it tomorrow. I had to freaking bust it through a lot of people—

Kevin:    [49:50] Yeah, so you got above zero quickly, but I think to get it to where it got to and to sell it for as much as you sold it for, I mean, you’re not going to sell something for that many millions just by, hey, throwing it out in your blog, right? You have reach, but you need to go deeper. And I think that’s the beauty of building something that people like and people talk about. And this is that notion of how do you get things to be viral. And yeah, I agree. Like there’s gotta be a way that you’re driven to do it and that you enjoy the process, right? If you’re just building it to have a financial outcome or something that’s a very fixed goal like that, you’re not gonna make the right decisions. Whereas if you’re having fun, because whether it takes a year or six months, or 18 months, or four years to build it, if you’re not having fun, you’re going to give up early. And you know, you want to have that ability to drive and say “I can do this forever because I enjoy it so much” right?

[50:39] And it’s a great way to approach kind of projects as you think about it. And I think this new project is like that, right? It’s just awesome. I think you found something, you like, you’ve tested it, it seems to work. And then like that hit of dopamine where you’re like, “Holy shit, I got something great “ [inaudible] the next thing. And I think it deeds you, right? It’s literally a hormonal response at some level, you’re seeing these little wins, right? And whether you’re making a dollar or two and you’re thinking ahead like, what would that look like if I run that out? 

Jeremy: [51:11] Here’s the thing, we don’t have much time left. One of the things I want to point out is that what frustrates me the most when I talk to people is they want to make a business plan and all that, and that’s good and all. I’m not against that. That’s not the way I’m wired, that’s not the way Kevin’s wired. Like, we come up with something that we think, we prove the concept. You sit down and you start doing it, you know what I mean? And people who are like, “what’s your SEO strategy?” I mean, Kevin, you know what I’m working on right now. You think I have an SEO strategy?

Kevin:    No, that’s not important right now. You’re proving that it works and proving that there’s a model and then failing, like you’ve got to find the problems with this thing, right? What’s not going to work? or is there going to be fraud and really problems with it?

Jeremy: That’s the key.

Kevin:    [51:57] Find the problems and fix the problems to make sure you’re working on the right things, right?

Jeremy: And you know I just ran into a problem last night that cost me about 600 bucks in a couple minutes.

Kevin:    Yeah. But I think that’s why I mentioned the fraud thing. Because I think those are the kinds of things you hit. And that’s the real part of starting a business or starting a new project, right? You have to find those quickly and work around them. And if you can’t, then you need to stop and do something different, right? Or make a different path, I think. And you’re amazing at that part of it.

Jeremy: Thank you. Coming from you, that means a lot. And it’s kinda been fun cause we’ve kinda gone— because I met before Zimmer sold. We met before Zimbra sold. And so, we’ve kind of been on the same journey. Like we met before Auction ads sold, before even rhat thing was going. So, I look back and it’s been eight years since that, which is interesting. And I found it on stunt doubles blog. Remember that?

Kevin:    [52:56] Yeah, dude. [inaudible] I know. I haven’t seen him in years. I need to go. He keeps offering me to come to go fishing with him and I need to go charter a boat. Next time we’re in Miami. He owns a boat dude. Yeah, he’s a captain of fishing boat.

Jeremy: [53:03] My wife wants to go see some freaking thing— Anyway dude, so today somebody asked me— somebody emailed and said, “Hey, I see you own eliteretreat.info, do you want to buy the.com? So you know me, I’ve replied back and I said, “well, it depends how much you want for it.” So they replied back and said $500. And so I’m like, well shit, I mean, that’s sounds reasonable.

Kevin:    If you don’t buy it, I’m going to buy it and set up my own company.

Jeremy: Well, here’s the best part about it. So who is on it, it’s pending deletion. So, this company must be scraping data on domains that are about to be deleted, and then emailing all the other TLDs and asking if they want to buy the.com, which is smartest shit.

Kevin:    Great business.

Jeremy: [53:53] Yeah. But that’s the thing, there’s so many opportunities out there and I just came up with this thing and it’s like printing money, and like— But the cool thing is, and Kevin knows about it is like, well, I don’t want to get too much into it, but anyway some cool stuff. We got to run here in a couple minutes. Kevin, what’s some final words of advice? And by the way, Kevin’s wife is way too intelligent and way too hot for him.

Kevin:    Thanks dude.

Jeremy: I meant to say that a while ago.

Kevin:    [54:25] Keep it at the end. Save the best for last. No, I think—

Jeremy: You got one minute.

Kevin:    [54:29] Yeah, I got a minute to wrap it out. So I think my words of advice is like you said, I mean, find something that you love and work on that, and get feedback early and often, and that’ll help you keep motivating yourself to keep working on it. And it’ll show that you’re building something that people love. I think for those of you that want to go learn about marketing, go to have my wife’s conference SEJ summit. They’re going to be in Chicago, in New York, in London and a bunch of cities. And so you can go to SEJ summit or searchenginejournal.com and sign up for a requested invite. And if you haven’t tried my outlook app on iOS and Android, you got to do that. Just search for outlook on the app store. And yeah, dude, Jeremy. Thanks again for having me, it was super awesome.

Jeremy: Yeah, you said it was SEJ summit like, S E J—

Kevin:    I don’t know, just put searchenginejournal.com

Jeremy: Oh, two M’s, I didn’t put two M’s.

Kevin:    Searchenginejournal.com.

Jeremy: [55:17] Thanks everybody for listening. Kevin, thanks so much for coming on.

Kevin:    likewise.

Jeremy: Bye everybody, we’ll talk to you next week.


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[56:16] Do you have an idea of brand, concept, or business? Well, we have what you need to grow your brick and mortar presence. Brookfield properties. You mean business? We mean retail. Discover new business opportunities at wemeanretail.com.

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