Success: One Thing At A Time
The Inventive Journey
Podcast for Entrepreneurs
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Success: One Thing At A Time
“If you don't know where to get started, then look at what is in front of you and try to distill what you see as success into the smallest, most manageable, and most accomplishable thing. Do that one thing.
When that one is done, do that same process. Figure out what the next, tiny, manageable thing is. When you do that every day, and you build a pattern of progress, you'll be pretty surprised at how far you get."
The Inventive Journey
Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.
ai generated transcription
if you don't know where to get started then look at what's in front of you and and really try to distill what you see as success into the smallest manageable and uh accomplishable thing and then do that one thing and then once that one thing is done do that same process figure out what the next uh tiny manageable accomplishable thing is and do that next thing and when you do that every day and you build a pattern of progress you'll be pretty surprised at how how far you get hey everyone this is uh devin miller here at the inventive journey i'm your host evan miller the serial entrepreneur that's also the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks and today on the podcast we have another great guest name is mitch and uh mitch is a started his crew out at ernest young decided that that wasn't for him so he moved or packed up moved all his belongings to san francisco decided to uh wanted to be part of the tech community in the startup community friends put him in touch with everbright or eventbrite i think is right and then from eventbrite stayed there for a while and then decided hey i can do this better i'm going to go tour the world do my backpacking trip through spain and maybe start a business and move back and now doing the what he'll tell you a little bit more about his business today so welcome to the podcast awesome thank you so much for having me so so i gave you a little bit of an intro but uh maybe if you want to share just a little bit more of your journey and how things are going yeah absolutely so i started about four years ago a company called join it and join it is a sas platform for small medium-sized non-profits to support you i don't mean sas is software as a service just for anybody that doesn't know what a sas is so you got it on credit software no i'm i just define the link so go ahead sorry didn't mean to jump in no absolutely so uh we provide software for non-profits uh to sell and track their membership so the typical customer would be like a professional association that you might join or a charity and we even serve like local yoga studios that need to charge a monthly membership for people to attend their classes okay so you did that and now we're you know i think that's a good summary and it gives people an idea of kind of what you're doing and how you're doing it now as the name implies we do the in journey so starting now from the end point now let's back up and start to where your journey started and how you got to doing joynet yeah perfect so as you mentioned i started my career right after college at ernst young and i was doing it auditing and it was the driest thing i think i've ever done part of my job was walking through data centers and making sure there was like 12 inches of space between the floor and the ground to make sure that it was preventative against floods and things like that to make sure that uh the systems that uh hold financial records and the financial data keeping relies on um are resilient so that it can pass like the the sox testing and uh come into compliance and i think i almost fell asleep explaining that so it's uh no wonder why i wanted to get out of it pretty quick and i only lasted a few quarters there before i started looking around and um i was already in san francisco for that job and so i was put in touch with a couple startups and one i eventually joined was eventbrite and an awesome career at eventbrite i actually had a few life's uh lives there where i started on the sales team um was there for about a year and then moved to the marketing team where i was in charge of partnerships the typical partnerships i was building were integrations with other software and you start to see where this goes where we're building uh integrations with like mailchimp and wordpress and these other popular sas platforms that small businesses were using to connect to eventbrite um this made sure that their data like when someone buys a ticket to an event which is the service that eventbrite provides uh syncs to their other platforms so someone buys a ticket on eventbrite i would be in charge of making the connection so that that information like the email address associated with the ticket buyer flows into your mailchimp account uh which is email marketing so that you can email them after the event about your next event um you're the one to blame that uh for all the spam email you get every time yeah or purchase something for an event is that yeah by summary of what happened yeah pretty much we we help those creators follow up uh to to help keep you informed on their their upcoming events um and so i was uh on the marketing team leading that initiative for about two years before i moved over to the product team to uh own the product side of that so i started on the business side building those relationships driving the integrations to where i actually manage uh the product that you'd build the integrations on and the technical people watching the podcast will be familiar with the term apis or application programming interface where that's really the hooks that you build into these different software platforms so i'd make these apis talk to each other and then i was in charge of building new apis which would unlock new ways that different platforms could interact and build value for the mutual customers um so i did that for a couple years and then something that kept happening was we had customers of eventbrite asking us to integrate with membership software so there'd be the yoga studio for example that would say you know i do all of my classes through eventbrite but we have a membership offering and that membership gets 10 off their tickets and i really need my membership system to talk to eventbrite and at the time i reached out to a lot of uh players in the space because there's definitely a lot of membership solutions out there and none of them were interested in integrating and to me it seemed like a very obvious opportunity but everyone in the market took this very like all-in-one approach where they provided your membership solution but also provided your event management solution and also provided your email marketing solution they'd bundle it all in one and sell it to the customer so i after being like hit in the head with this idea of integrated membership management for what felt like uh two years i said fine i'm gonna go build this and and so i did so it was really an you had this idea and you decided okay hit you in the head hit you in the head long enough i'm going to go do this i'm going to do my startup but then in the middle of that you decided but i'm going to take what it was a trip to spade for a little while yeah right the way i i rationalized it to my parents at the time was san francisco as everyone knows is one of the most expensive cities in the country right and so my apartment in san francisco would have crushed my burn rate or the amount of uh the rate at which i was spending my life savings on on starting this new company if i stayed in san francisco so it was only logical for me to go to spain where i found an apartment that was a quarter of the cost and bigger in uh in a new country it was it was another benefit uh to san francisco so i extended my burn rate it was a very uh smart financial move as well as fun fun adventure we'll go with a fun adventure smartpak actually you could go out to the middle of wyoming yeah i'm pretty sure rent would be even cheaper than spade you might not be as fun when you're building the business you got to make sure you're still living your life at the same time that's a big philosophy so you went and when did spain and i think you moved around for a little while and we talked before you went from spain you went to new york you went to paris and then you ended up coming back to california yeah when in when when within all of your world travels did you start um your your current company or you started joining so before spain um it was in incorporated in october 2016 um and that was when i got on a flight on october 16th to to go to spain um so that was really a nice benefit as well you could get this in wyoming but being socially isolated uh you could certainly get that wyoming yeah exactly uh really helped i mean it's it's kind of a a brutalist way to look at it but um being in a space where i wasn't distracted by the normal social life that i had in san francisco really had me at least for that short period it was only three months of time but focus like live eat breathe join it and build a new product that got to a place where it was viable and we had paying customers by uh the end of that three months so if you basically took a world tour decided i'm gonna go have fun but then at the same time because you're basically software as a service or sas you're able to build it from anywhere so it doesn't limit you you don't have to be tied to an office or a specific location did you have any team at that time or is it really just you and i'm going to code it all myself yeah 100 me so the wii is talking about the corporation i don't join it but it was just mitch at the time um okay so you did that and you said it so you it took you about three months to build it or how long did it take you to build up yeah three months and it is kind of a funny timeline to try to quote because i'm i'm still building it today i'll still be building it for the next you know however many years and it's it's never done and so we at least you've never had this generation one was out yeah yeah i mean even even that might be misleading into like how we built the product because it went from like point zero one to point zero two to point zero three two point zero four like it never there's never like one version that we were working towards we were shipping again the funny wii i was shipping code every day like literally every day to the software and someone would sign up like we had signed ups you know two weeks after i put up the site but they'd get to a point where they'd oh it doesn't do this thing and i expected it to do that thing so we probably got our first customer in october or november but it wasn't a you know viable product probably until uh january of that year okay but i and i think but i think there's some wisdom in that in the sense that you can you can build it out and there's always and that's the cursing and the blessing with software is you can build a lot of features and it's what i you know i have a friend that and somebody else in the business that i've helped co-found that always calls the creature or feature creep right where you have 20 different features and every time it's like well we could add this so we could have it it could do this and yet if you never get it out and get it in front of customers and you never actually have you know have it in front of them you can build a whole bunch of features that may be useless and you miss the mark of not having those so i think there's wisdom and hey even if it's getting it out there getting the feedback knowing what to adjust and making it better is going to make it you know it's going to be a better way to release it than going to um you know trying to make a whole bunch of features and then wasting half your time on it so i think that that's certainly a wise way to do it and then you can get that feedback so how did you you know so that's a fairly quick timeline to both code a product software as a service get it launched and start getting customers so how did you within all of your world travels or was it just purely a website and seo play people are looking up did you have customers that you were reaching out from previous contacts or how did you kind of get that launch going yeah so the the initial like the first probably 100 customers predominantly came through integrations that we built so uh and this was like the program that i worked on at eventbrite was the api platform so that other companies could connect join it became my company became one of those companies that connected and most of these platform larger companies have carrots to try to get developers to build off of their platform and a lot of that looks like getting you in front of their customers so we built integrations with eventbrite we built integrations with mailchimp we built integrations with stripe which is a payment processor and then they introduced us to their users um and that was where our first couple customers came from okay so you do that you get a couple customers you continue to figure out what they want to iterate through it you know was it just straight as soon as you launched it everything went perfect and successful you built it out were there any hills and valleys or how did the launch go for you uh i mean it went pretty well the the nice thing and the worst thing about software as a service is and i'll kind of expand on this for for the audiences with software as a service you're selling access to your software and typically it comes with recurring billing so you sign someone up and they pay you every month to access your software and so when you acquire that customer it's pretty reliable that they're going to stick around and a few might leave every month so it's really valuable when you get them on board and you can build your business and it makes your revenue look like this like there's not a lot of software service companies that that have this like beautiful s-curve that your beautiful like uh curve that you see with silicon valley companies a lot of them look like this very long slow linear graph of growth and that's what we've had and so it hasn't been the peaks and valleys of one month having riches the next month being broke it's just been a very long slog and there is a term in the industry called the slow ramp of death because a lot of people uh don't plan for how long this will take to actually build the momentum of this uh recurring revenue engine where you have a decent accumulation of customers to be profitable so um yeah it was the the downside was the long slow slog of it but it never had like the kind of crash that you might see in like consumer apps where you build up this big buzz you launch you get press and then the next month it's crickets um or someone they'd stick around but it was just a slog to to get enough uh people to to be profitable how did you and so how long did it take you to reach that profitability point how long were you holding your breath waiting for that to ramp up far enough yeah that's a good question i mean that the big the biggest expense is obviously uh labor so me and and then deciding uh and there's another term in the industry called ramen profitability where it's like are you profitable enough to pay yourself um enough of a salary to live off top ramen is where it comes from and so we were ramen profitable probably after a year and a half or so um where i was finally paying myself to where i wasn't drawing from savings uh and of course that you know those lines on the graph got closer and closer where in the first month it was all savings and by a year in it was maybe half and then by a year and a half i was i was finally break even but it wasn't until gosh a few quarters ago that um i paid myself what i was making before i left eventbrite which was my personal like goal like if i can start this company and get to a place where i'm closer to what was my market rate salary that was kind of the the big shining um big shining goal that that we achieved so we slash i yeah now the uh team so now the team is uh three folks so when i say we in the present now there is an actual lead yeah so we do have uh someone on customer support and uh she's lovely she takes care of all our customers in a really wonderful way and then we have someone else who heads up all of our marketing initiatives so they uh help us find even more customers wow that's awesome yeah now you take so you went from eventbrite did you tour through all or tour around the world at the same time started a business got to profitability or got your ramen profitability now you've got enough profitability replaced your salary bringing on some additional people customer support and people to help to offset and to get even more done where do you see the next six months to six to 12 months go for you what's the plan or trajectory or what's that what's in store next yeah i mean the really this year 2020 global pandemic aside uh was about uh what i would call like productizing our acquisition and marketing channels so we were growing it a decent clip every month uh but it was um sometimes it it seemed like it was out of our control how much we grow month to month and we didn't quite have the the levers down like the idea that the channel that we grow from google adwords uh grows at this much a month and if we invest a little more money into adwords then we can accelerate that channel um that's like the perfect place that you want to be in a business because then you can be the master of your own destiny a bit more uh so our growth felt like very ad hoc last year and that was one of the reasons that we brought on our head of marketing was so they can productize it and turn it into more of a growth machine um so that's what that's what we've been working on and it's even uh even for getting the uh macro economic uh headwinds of a global pandemic we have been growing uh faster this year than we were last year which as a business is getting larger doesn't happen all that often so it's really good to see and i continue to um expect for us to step on the gas a little bit to continue growing this year and then i mean more broadly i'm when people reach out because when you're a profitable sas company of our size you have a lot of people that are looking to invest or potentially acquire um i give the same response which is that i i wake up every day excited to work on joining i'm really loving like this job in this career so i have no plans to uh to to sell or to to move on to the next thing i'm i'm really excited to be working on it so keep steady um in general to to continue growing the business well that's exciting so it sounds like some great uh great things that are to come and a a great uh journey yet uh yet in front of you so that's exciting so yeah well as we reach towards the end of the podcast i always ask two questions so maybe we'll jump to those now so the first question i always ask is what was the worst business decision you ever made gosh i don't know if uh people give such specific ones but i definitely have one early on in the in the days of join it i coded a really bad bug into the platform where there was like a never-ending loop that would send an email and it picked one customer to just send an email and i probably sent about 10 000 emails so i ddos like a huge denial of service attack towards one email that was on our platform and it was by far the most embarrassing thing i've ever done and i had to go to them because they took a chance on us early and it was a very uh humbling experience that was definitely the worst thing i've ever decision i've ever made were they understanding did you lose the customer or how did that end up working super lovely they're still a customer today and i'm i'm so grateful for it well that's awesome no i like the specificities and i always like you know it's one of those where you can learn oftentimes you'll learn from your mistake and that's one that you know i've learned in software and had others you know oftentimes you want to release things as quick as you can and and then you try and be also trying you have the i want to release as quick as i can i want to debug it to make it perfect yeah and you're never going to catch all the bugs and so you always have all these competing interests and you're trying to balance all of them as to how much testing you do there's always those things that no matter how much it tests until you get it out in the wild it never pops up yeah so that's a great mistake to learn from yeah even with testing i i could have never imagined how we would have tested for this scenario that they had set up you know there's just so many edge cases it's it's something sometimes you just run into i guess so all right so now we jump to the second question which is somebody that was just one you're just getting into startups or wanting to get into startups kind of in that mode or that phase of life what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them uh get started like one of my one of my big things is that uh i i hate when people play gatekeepers especially in tech and software people will say oh you need to use this framework or you need to be real like to do x you need to be a real developer like have a cs degree or something like that and i don't buy any of that i think if i can build a software business literally anyone can uh so get started and then the the second follow on to that would be if you don't know where to get started then look at what's in front of you and really try to distill what you see as success into the smallest manageable and uh accomplishable thing and then do that one thing and then once that one thing is done do that same process figure out what the next uh tiny manageable accomplishable thing is and do that next thing and when you do that every day and you build a pattern of progress you'll be pretty surprised at how how far you get well that's awesome okay now i'm going to ask my one bonus question which i am only asking to you okay which is because most people excuse me i got all choked up asking the question no there we go what are most people they don't haven't traveled as much as you so you've been san francisco you've been to spain you've been to new york you've been to now in a couple different places in california favorite place to live which one is it oh gosh uh i mean my favorite place and the place that i would move tomorrow if i if i could would be london with eventbrite i did six months there after eventbrite acquired uh a british company and so i got to live there and made amazing friends and good culture they have good work-life balance and i just love it there that's where yeah all right so london's a place to live all right make a mental note yeah okay um well so as we wrap up um people want to use your product they want to get involved they want to apply to get a job there they want to do whatever what's the best way to reach out to you definitely so joinit.org is where you can find all about join it and then i'm on twitter at uh collar and c-o-l-l-e-r-a-n all right well they'll either check out the website and or twitter and uh certainly anybody that's looking for some um service or software as a service for what you guys are providing enjoying it i recommend that they reach out to you guys and uh you guys it looks like you're doing a great job and only have a great journey left in front of you so thank you for coming on the podcast it's been fun to have you on here your journey wish you all the best of the next leg of your journey um and then for those of you that are wanting to tell your journey come on the podcast certainly feel free to apply at inventivejourney.com love to hear your everybody's journeys for those of you that are subscribers and listeners or listeners make sure to subscribe so that you can catch all the new episodes including this one and getting that notification and certainly if you need any help with patents or trademarks feel free to reach out to us at millerip law and we're definitely here to help thanks again for coming on it was a pleasure it was fun to talk with you and wish you the best thanks evan take care okay bye English (auto-generated) All Sales From Miller IP Law Recently uploaded