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Automate, Delegate, Eliminate
42 minutes | Dec 2, 2020
Looking back to look forward - Jeremy Ring
Today on Automate, Delegate, Eliminate we are privileged to chat to Jeremy Ring, one of the members of the first team at Yahoo! Jeremy Ring was hired as Director of Sales at Yahoo! In 1996 by legendary founder Jerry Yang. After a profanity-laced telephone call with Jerry, Jeremy quit his current job - after only one day of being with that company - to begin a 5 and a half year journey with Yahoo! That would change his life. Since leaving Yahoo! Jeremy has been a successful entrepreneur, a Florida state senator, and ran for CFO of Florida in 2018. He has also been a champion for students with his Students United with Parents and Educators to Resolve Bullying (SUPERB) program. Jeremy is here with us today to talk with us about the rise and fall of Yahoo! From his 50-yard line view. How did Yahoo! Differ from its competitors, what made it so profitable? Early on they were the first online company to partner with major brands. They believed in making a profitable company. You joined the company after it was founded, were they still innovating? They were still innovating, but they were innovating for the time. They innovated in the content area. In hindsight, were there any business opportunities that were passed up that could have saved Yahoo!? It’s a hard question to answer, as so many different acquisition opportunities came through the Yahoo! offices. The bigger acquisitions that were passed up were by the second team. The second team had the opportunity to acquire Facebook and passed. The decisions that were made that hurt the company were made by non-tech executives. Jeremy believes the biggest mistake that the first team made was to not monetize search. What are some things entrepreneurs can do to help them recognize they may be looking through a lens that may be the wrong one? How you identify customers. How do you identify areas that need disruption? How did the company grow while you were there, what were some of the difficulties in the beginning? 25 employees when he started there when he left there were around 3000. There weren’t many internal difficulties at the beginning. The company culture collapsed with the second team. The biggest challenges they faced came from Wall Street because they expected a more short term explosive growth, so they couldn’t spend time with clients that would be more profitable in the long term than the short term. What was it like to see the Dot.Com bubble burst coming? They knew the storm was coming about a year beforehand. There was no way to reverse course and stop the burst. The biggest entities were not actually destroyed by the burst, just damaged. Yahoo! Was not destroyed, but they failed to rebuild. What were the differences in the company between when you started and when you left? The company culture was intact, the culture collapsed after the dot.com bubble burst. The company culture during his time was great. Where is Yahoo! today? They are owned by Verizon They’re about one step above Radio shack and Blockbuster What advice would you give other entrepreneurs? Don’t be afraid to set new rules. See the existing opportunities and take advantage of the moment. Focus on your go-to market aspect, otherwise, it doesn’t matter if you have a great technology or not. Selling is equally as hard as building great technologies. Don’t over-analyze. Resources: Websites: Yahoo! Data Automation Suggest a SaaS founder for the Automate, Delegate, Eliminate show at: firstname.lastname@example.org See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
58 minutes | Nov 25, 2020
Recognizing who you are and what you're good at - Tracy Childers
On today’s show, we have a great founder to showcase, Tracy Childers of WishList Member! Tracy Childers was a frustrated online marketer who got tired of using complex and buggy software to run his online business, so he decided just to build his own. Today we get to talk to Tracy about how a non-coder founded a SaaS product that has been around for 12 years. Tell us about what your software does for people? WishList Member is a WordPress plugin that allows you to turn your website into a membership site. It helps to control the user experience of your site through a login. How does WishList Member differ from competitors? Because WishList Member is a WordPress plugin, all you need to do to use it is install the free WordPress version on your site and pay for the plugin. The way they integrate. How did you help found WishList Member? Tracy was the director of shipping for his father’s business when he was quite young. He went to college to get a marketing degree, and he felt that he had learned nothing about marketing. His father pointed out to him that going to college wasn’t about getting trained, but to prove that he had the ability to finish what he started. When he got into business he quickly realized that databases were essential to running a business. He got really into using Filemaker pro, a low/no-code tool. He recognized that what he was good at, and that was not coding. So he decided to find people who were good at coding to get them to build software for him. As the internet grew it became simpler to hire a coder. He saw a space in the market for a cheaper, easier WordPress membership listing product. What were some of the difficulties you faced, and how did you overcome them? They unknowingly alienated the WordPress community. They obfuscated their code. To fix it, they stopped obfuscating their code and fixed it to work better with WordPress. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs? In order to get paid, you have to show up. Resources: Websites: WishList Member Data Automation Books mentioned: The E-Myth Suggest a SaaS founder for the Automate, Delegate, Eliminate show at: email@example.com See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28 minutes | Nov 18, 2020
Things to think about during this busy season for online retailers
On today's episode we offer 3 nuggets from previous guests from our first season of Automate, Delegate, Eliminate! Thanks to the increase of online shopping due to the pandemic, this year promises to be the biggest Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Christmas season ecommerce has enjoyed so far. With that in mind we thought we should reshare some nuggets from previous episodes to help you along the path of automating, delegating or eliminating processes to help your ecommerce business run more smoothly during this busy time!First up, Orion Avidan of retail AddVenture talks about replenishment: Would you like to hear more? Catch the full episode here: https://podcasts.apple.com/za/podcast/big-decisions-have-to-be-made-little-data-to-rely-on/id1514031580?i=1000476710250 Second Rolando Rosas of Global Tek Worldwide talks about order fulfillment and stock movement: Catch the full episode here: https://podcasts.apple.com/za/podcast/humans-will-make-mistakes-fba-automation-rolando-rosas/id1514031580?i=1000475018341 And last but not least, Brian Miller of Easy China Warehouse gives us a great summary on WHY you need to start using software in your business: Catch the rest of Brian's story here: https://podcasts.apple.com/za/podcast/its-not-always-about-saving-time-accuracy-can-be-more/id1514031580?i=1000478293581 Suggest a SaaS founder for the Automate, Delegate, Eliminate show at: firstname.lastname@example.org See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
36 minutes | Nov 11, 2020
Skubana is the peanut butter to Shopify's jelly - Chad Rubin
Today's guest is Chad Rubin of Skubana, all those ecom stores out there gearing up for Black Friday, you'll want to listen to this. Having worked in corporate finance covering internet stocks, Chad started his own ecommerce storefront in 2008. As CrucialVacuum.com Chad discovered a real need to solve the most serious problems of order processing and inventory management that cause millions of dollars in losses for e-commerce sellers every year. Like most of the best SaaS products out there, the need to solve these pain points was how Skubana was born. Tell us about what your software does for people? If you think of Shopify, it is everything you can see above the earth, whereas Skubana is everything below ground. Skubana makes it possible to manage your online store operations, especially if you are going multi-channel. Skubana helps ecommerce companies run and automate their businesses. How does Skubana differ from competitors? They built it from their own challenges, which means it works extremely well. They have built inventory and order management systems together. They have unified the software. How did you help found Skubana? He had a problem that he needed to solve for, he needed a multi-channel system that actually worked. He couldn’t find any software that truly solved his problem. They started Skubana to solve the problem. What made you decide that you needed to build your own software? Had was working with his business partner to try and get a software solution. When they realised they could not get pre-built software to adequately solve their issues they decided to build one themselves. What were some of the moments when you realized what the software needed? Chad gives credit to his business partner DJ, who pointed out that what they needed was not just an inventory system but an operations platform with everything unified. What sort of problems did you have when you scaled and grew? They needed more investments than they initially thought What made you decide to narrow the vision for your software? Going after specialized expertise has tremendous value. At a Shopify conference and saw a presentation that made them realize that with an open API allowed people to build into their software, which would allow others to build into their platform and essentially do some of the work for them. What did you do to keep your family afloat while building Skubana? Chad is a first generation Amazon seller, which brings a lot of benefits. His store helped to fund him while he was building Skubana. He didn’t take a paycheck from Skubana for a long time. What difficulties did you face when starting the company and how did you overcome them? Getting people to believe in their software. He made a list of the top 10 ecommerce entrepreneurs he wanted to get involved and invest. After his first investor many others followed, and eventually he got 2 people from that top 10 list. What sort of questions do investors ask during the seed round? You will need to think through every aspect of your business logistics. One seed investor asked what’s happening with Chad’s other business and what his role in the new business was. Think through all the hard topics so that you have an answer. Have some proof of concept conversations to better ready yourself for the real conversations. Make a pitch deck, and send it out and ask for feedback. Build a relationship with potential investors. How has the business changed from the early days? The stakes are higher They have a bigger team They have a much better product They have better product market fit They have become more focused on what they are great at What advice would you give to entrepreneurs that are just starting out? Being able to find light in the dark times, and get through them helps you come out a better person. There is always room for the best on the open market. What works for one person may not work for you, follow your own rainbow. Find the people who have the problem your product solves. Resources: Chad@Skubana.com Websites: Skubana Data Automation Suggest a SaaS founder for the Automate, Delegate, Eliminate show at: email@example.com See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
43 minutes | Nov 4, 2020
Customer Service people are basically therapists - Russ Perry
Our guest for today is Russ Perry of Design Pickle. Russ Perry has been involved in branding and marketing strategy for the last decade. He has worked to shift the status-quo with brands such as Apple, Morgan Stanley, Pebble Tec, LG, Botanicare, and the Harlem Globetrotters. In 2015 he launched Design Pickle – the world's #1 flat-rate creative platform. Tell us about what your software does for people? It is a network of a global creative team. They connect entrepreneurs and businesses to on-demand creative help. How does Design Pickle differ from competitors? The scalability of their service and platform. The quality of their services. Consistency. Their software and platform How did you help found Design Pickle? He had his own design pickle that needed to be fixed. He set up an early version of Design Pickle with some third-party software and a couple of other people. He realized that the model worked really well, especially as some of the designers were overseas, as the work was done “overnight”. He looked at it and thought “what if I could package this”. Where did you get the idea for the name and logo? Russ is really great at branding. The name for his previous consultancy was long and unwieldy, so he decided his new company had to be easy to remember and spell. He likes fermented food, so he went with Design Pickle. He made 2 sketches, and the one his daughter could identify as a pickle he used for the logo. What were some of the moments where you realized exactly what Design Pickle needed? The need for software to manage the business as they scaled. Having instant communication with your designer. What made you decide to dedicate a designer to each client? It came down to the quality of the experience. If a creative can really get to know the client and their brand, they can deliver better designs. It makes it easier to track the customer’s experience. How did you keep you and your family afloat when you started Design Pickle? He kept his business relationships from his agency alive, he got some consulting work from past clients. He was actually getting paid more and working less than when he had an agency. He invested in personal development, he hired some coaches, and went to events. Do you have any examples of your challenges and how you overcame them? Russ has written a book about all of his personal challenges (see the bottom of the notes for a link) Russ realized that isolation was his biggest challenge, and being able to open up about his problems is key to overcoming that. All of your problems are personal ones. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs? Be hyper niche and specific in your business, you can always branch out later. Resources: Websites: Design Pickle Data Automation Books mentioned: The Sober Entrepreneur Get hold of Ryan: https://russperry.co/ Suggest a SaaS founder for the Automate, Delegate, Eliminate show at: firstname.lastname@example.org See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
45 minutes | Oct 28, 2020
Fake it till you make it - Ryan Phillips
On today’s episode of Automate, Delegate, Eliminate we chat to Ryan Phillips. Ryan Phillips started completely broke working out of his grandparents spare bedroom and in two short years built a wildly profitable online business, which he has grown to $1MM+ per year. He is the founder of VideoSuite and Interactr and is focused on personal growth and development. Tell us about what your software does for people? Interactr is an interactive video platform It allows you to create a video that a user interacts with, which allows you to deliver the correct sales pitch for that user. How does Interactr differ from competitors? A lot of the features are more marketing and direct response related. It’s an enterprise level software without the enterprise level cost. How did you help found Interactr? He was a full time martial arts instructor The members of the martial arts school had a session with a life coach, who went over their internal value structures. The coach pointed out that Ryan’s internal values were not consistent with running his own martial arts school. He had to pivot his whole life plan. He decided that an online business would be the best idea, and got a mentor for internet marketing (which he failed at). His accountability partner suggested that they create a product teaching entrepreneurs how to make great videos with their phone. He posted to facebook one day about how grateful he was not to have a 9-5 job, and this caught the eye of an old friend. They went to dinner to discuss some ideas. The 2 launched a successful product together, and agreed to a partnership. What were some of the moments where you realised exactly what Interactr needed? The initial idea was literally to copy a more expensive offering and offer it at lower price. They listened to their users and made changes each year. How do you capture user feedback? They have a request page, and they also receive feedback from the user FaceBook group. The page also contains an up and down vote feature so users can pick which feature should be built next. What is the online formula for success? Traffic + conversion = sales Is your product solving a problem or is it providing a solution to a desire? Those are the only things people will pay for. $100 or less needs a sales page.(Low ticket) $500 - $2000 needs a webinar (Mid Ticket) $5000 - $15000 needs an application process that leads to an actual call (High ticket) What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them? Every successful company has challenges When you become successful, te problems don’t stop Get used to failing forwards, fast Resources: Websites: VideoSuite/Interactr Data Automation Books mentioned: Traction Get hold of Ryan: https://www.instagram.com/ryanphillipshq/?hl=en Suggest a SaaS founder for the Automate, Delegate, Eliminate show at: email@example.com See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
42 minutes | Oct 21, 2020
Customers are harder to sell to than investors - Andy Lambert
On today’s episode of Automate, Delegate, Eliminate we chat with Andy Lambert of ContentCal! Andy has over 10 years of experience in creating markets, building profitable businesses, and leadership roles in industry-leading SaaS organizations. He is one of the Founding Team of ContentCal, an award-winning social media marketing technology software that has gone international since launching in January 2017. Tell us about what your software does for people? It simplifies how businesses do content marketing Most businesses’ content marketing is very fragmented ContentCal brings all content marketing together into one sphere How does ContentCal differ from competitors? They are multi-channel Built by non-tech marketers How did you help found ContentCal? It was originally a content marketing agency under a different name He wanted to simplify their content creation and scheduling process Andy was introduced to the founder of the agency by a mutual connection Andy had some concerns because the content app market was crowded, but ultimately decided to join the team. What did the team look like when you joined to start work on the software? The agency was about 10 people. They got some guys in Russia to do coding of the software, based on some designs the product manager had done. Andy was employee number 2 on the software. What made you ultimately decide that joining the ContentCal team was the right idea? He knew that an investor was making a commitment that would make it financially sound for the company to hire employees and offer them a salary How did the idea of the software come to be and become a reality? Alex had the initial idea Colin bought into Alex’ idea and invested in him Any advice to entrepreneurs about investors? The challenge comes in drawing a line so that your investors don’t meddle too much in your business Some investors may not have relevant views Have a good board chairman who is on your side and understands that the product and marketing teams know better than your investors and can advocate for you Pay attention to who's money you are taking, not all money is good money to take What were some moments when you realized exactly what ContentCal needed? What they originally made had very good feedback from users They are still on the journey of making ContentCal into the final product They realized that the marketing team can’t be the only ones working on content They are connecting all the dots on the ideas that they gain from users to take them on the journey of creating ContentCal What difficulties did you face when starting the company and how did you overcome them? The hardest thing at the start is to find paying customers. They learned they had to find their customers themselves, mostly by annoying people on LinkedIn. They bought an email list and sent out emails, and found that they got a lot of feedback but it took a while to figure out what was good feedback. They found it was best to find their minimum viable audience What advice would you give other SaaS entrepreneurs? An idea is worth nothing without people to execute on it and invest in it Customers are harder to sell to than investors. An idea is just a research project. Don’t forget to own your growth. Don’t rely on ads on places like Facebook, it’s building your business on rented land. Resources: Websites: ContentCal Data Automation Books mentioned: The Lean Startup The Startup Owner's Manual Suggest a SaaS founder for the Automate, Delegate, Eliminate show at: firstname.lastname@example.org See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
50 minutes | Oct 14, 2020
How is this supposed to go? - Rob and Kennedy
On today’s show, we have 2 amazing guests in one episode! I am interviewing Rob and Kennedy of Response Suite. Rob entertains with hypnosis and Kennedy has a comedy show using his skills in psychology, body language, and reading people to read his audience’s mind Tell us about what your software does for people? Response Suite is a user survey software Funnels customers to the correct product. Integrates your surveys with all of your marketing channels to enable entrepreneurs to turn feedback into sales. How does Response Suite differ from competitors? Response Suite uses every answer that a customer gives to each question in a survey and creates a map of the customer on a granular level. Integrates with all your other marketing tools. Brings all your customer information into a single place. How did you found Response Suite? Neither Rob nor Kennedy wanted to be entrepreneurs, they are both entertainers. While they were performing they each started online businesses to fill in time. They realized that there was no good, single software that could use surveys to funnel their customers to the correct course or product on their sites in the way they wanted. They wanted to be able to treat their customers as individuals to give subscribers a better experience and to increase profits. How did you make your idea a reality? They ignored all the advice, they self-funded. Taking VC would go against their core value of never getting a job. As non-tech people it was impossible for them to outsource into another country, so they hired a developer locally. Having never had a traditional job, they didn’t even know how to do an interview. What were moments that made you realize exactly what your software needed? While they were talking about their initial idea they realized that they could integrate their surveys into anything that has to do with your marketing. Realizing that a survey is something that could be put in front of customers at every step of the customer journey instead of just at the end. How did you keep the company funded? They initially decided to allocate as much as they needed to keep the company going. They tried to make sure that they had 12 months of staff wages available at all times. They did a one-off launch that covered their bills for a while. They released Response Suite as a monthly or yearly SaaS. They were not making money, and then got hit with a tax bill. The company almost folded. They pivoted the business to become profitable. How did you pivot your business to become profitable? They learned that they were too focused on what they did not do well. They pivoted by focusing on what they were good at. They mapped out who the prospects for Response Suite were and focused on them. They created a brand that targeted those prospects and funneled them toward Response Suite. How does the company look now as compared to when you started? They originally thought that in order to be a successful SaaS company they needed to have an office, but have since gone remote. The majority of their customers come through back end marketing instead of front end marketing. What advice would you give other SaaS entrepreneurs? Ignore advice. Not all the advice out there is relevant to you. You are the only person who sees 100% of your content, you can push out content more frequently than you think. Resources: Websites: Response Suite Data Automation Books mentioned: The Lean Startup The E-Myth Suggest a SaaS founder for the Automate, Delegate, Eliminate show at: email@example.com See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
39 minutes | Oct 7, 2020
Productivity for everyone and everything - Zeb Evans
On the show today we get to sit down and share a few laughs with Zeb Evans of ClickUp! Zeb Evans is a serial entrepreneur and libertarian that's started several software companies with over $100 million in revenue. Currently, he's founder and CEO at ClickUp, a productivity platform where people plan their work. Tell us about what your software does for people? ClickUp is an all in one platform for productivity. Very customizable features. ClickUp works for everyone as compared to competitors who are for a specific market. How did you decide to found ClickUp? Zeb has been a lifelong entrepreneur His prior company was a social media company, through that he started his project managing journey. They were using a LOT of productivity apps, and that’s where they got the idea to make a single app for all of your productivity ideas. He had a near-death experience, moved to Silicon Valley, and kept going with ClickUp. What did some of the initial meetings look like? It was always about flexibility. The vision has always been to build something that will work for any size team. They make sure that their features are always independent of each other so that if you don’t use the feature you can turn it off without breaking your workflows. Where did the name ClickUp come from? Zeb did a social media platform before ClickUp, so clicks were something they were always thinking about. He had trademarked the name ClickUp, and it just stuck with them. There’s a fake answer here. The reality is that it was a name they had already trademarked, and it stuck with them. Zeb says your company name needs to be easy to Google and spell, and make it memorable. What were moments that made you realize exactly what your software needed? The vision for where they are today was all there right from the start. They weren’t perfect at what they wanted to do right from the beginning. They learned primarily from user feedback along the way as to what they were doing right and wrong. They either ship out a feature and then gather feedback or send out a survey beforehand. How do you ensure that you are not only listening to what your users say they want but also building what they really need? ClickUp has a few platforms and avenues for this They use Canny, which is an upvote feature board. They use Kendo, a data analytics platform. Many times it’s not just about the data gathered, but about whether the feature is marketed or explained. How did you start ClickUp and keep yourself going financially? Zeb had money from his previous company that he invested in ClickUp. It never actually occurred to him to get investors. Zeb advocates becoming profitable as soon as possible, despite the current general opinion around profitability. No one really wanted to fund a product that was everything for everyone initially anyway. Eventually, they got investors, but that was very recently. What is one thing that you initially sacrificed and are now getting around to? Relationships. Zeb says when you start a company there is always something that becomes imbalanced while you chase your dream. What are some of the biggest challenges you overcame? There are a lot of little challenges that crop up daily. He describes his current role in the company as a firefighter, constantly putting out all the little fires that start every day. They were very close to running out of money at the beginning, so Zeb had to go back to the business mindset instead of worrying so much about product. Finding the right people makes the supposedly impossible, possible. He learned the lesson from his previous job to hire fewer people and trust them to do their best. He also learned that it was better to do manual testing rather than automated testing as automated tests can break and then need to be fixed. What did you do to get your first users? Their initial growth was 100% organic. They relied on their users to be advocates. They did a lot of content and SEO. What was the business like in the early days compared to now? Zeb says he didn’t really notice how much the business was changing. Everyone in the business, while still wearing many hats, has niched down and concentrates more on fewer areas. The team has grown to be much larger. What advice would you give other SaaS entrepreneurs? Choose what tool you are building, it won’t work for everything. Choose a space. Don’t be dumb about it, listen to feedback, but don’t lose your vision. Focus on profitability, focus on the business. Resources: Websites: ClickUp Data Automation Books mentioned: The Lean Startup The E-Myth Suggest a SaaS founder for the Automate, Delegate, Eliminate show at: firstname.lastname@example.org See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
37 minutes | Sep 30, 2020
Videos, an opera house and a bear suit - Matt Barnett
In this episode we chat with the man in the bear suit, Matt Barnett! Originally a British industrial designer & artist, Matt Barnett turned everything upside down to launch a tech company in Sydney Australia. Matt’s love of building great products is only surpassed by his total commitment to building great business culture, and Matt asserts that Bonjoro’s “customers as friends” culture has been the main driver of the businesses success. His goal is to be the next Zappos, to be the most loved brand in the world.. Tell us about what your software does for people? Bonjoro is a one to one video messaging system. It plugs in to your CRM and suggests points in the customer journey for you to send a personalized video. Bonjoro gives you all the information you need for each customer for you to be able to do this, including the softwares used or steps made. What makes Bonjoro different from other video making apps? Personalization. Bonjoro is more of a work flow tool than a video tool. It prompts and drives actions and monitors the results. How did you found Bonjoro? The idea was born in the pub. The original team members were all in Australia and the clients were mostly in the UK, so there was a large time difference. They were good at converting customers, but they needed to make their messages more personal to help convert customers that they weren’t talking to directly. Matt would send a video every morning when he was on the ferry to work every morning, including a lot of information recognising what the client was doing - personalized messages. A client asked to use the personalized “video thing”, so Matt went back to his team and said “we should build that”. What were some of the moments when you realized something your software needed? Because it was a hack on the side they initially tried to just solve their own problem. They integrated with other SaaS products to get new leads. Where did the bear suit come from? When the software got bigger they decided they needed a name. They were joking around and decided on a bear. It got out of hand from there. Their brand has always been light hearted and fun and the bear thing was a perfect fit. As your team grows, how do you maintain your company culture? They started as just 3 in the agency. They are now a team of 13. Work out what your values are, yourself, not with a consultant. Your culture is the thing that works for your business and you. Bonjoro tries to hire true to the current culture, they look for weird people. How did you keep your family afloat while you got Bonjoro going? They did risk everything. Their agency was going well, they risked losing focus and the agency. They got some news hires. They did raise extra funds for Bonjoro. You always have to take risks. What difficulties did you face, and how did you overcome them? Losing key members of the agency to the app. Understanding their company culture and how to hire people who fit into it. Hiring too quickly and making the wrong hire. How does the company compare now to when you began? They have a lot more processes now. How do you keep your processes fun so that creatives follow them? Results. Make sure you celebrate the results of the process. Make solving the process fun.. Build your process for the team you have and double the team you have, don’t make the process for far more people than you have. What advice would you give other SaaS entrepreneurs? Enjoy the journey. The average SaaS company does not actually sell in 2 years. Resources: Websites: Bonjoro Data Automation Books mentioned: The E-Myth Suggest a SaaS founder for the Automate, Delegate, Eliminate show at: email@example.com See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
41 minutes | Sep 23, 2020
What am I going to give back to society - Ashik Wani
In this episode of Automate, Delegate, Eliminate we chat with Ashik Wani about his SaaS, DocAcquire! Ashik is a customer driven technology evangelist, with executive-level experience identifying and implementing enabling technologies that facilitate business processes and strategic objectives. He is the Founder of DocAcquire, a SaaS platform which enables businesses to automate document centric business processes. What does DocAcquire do? DocAcquire helps any business automate any back office, data-centric processes. For example processing invoices Specifically, they want to help businesses do less, and do it beautifully. What makes DocAcquire different from other document parsing softwares? Ashik saw that a number of parsing softwares were clumsy, expensive and difficult to use. He wanted to make a product that was easy for businesses of any size to adopt. DocAcquire was made so that the initial user journey is seamless and the software is easy to configure. What was your Origin story, how did you decide to start making DocAcquire Ashik started as a software developer before being promoted to high level leadership positions. He worked for an insurance company that sought to digitize their paper-centric processes. They built a platform that would scan the paper documents and automate a lot of the processes. That got him thinking about the information inside those documents, and what could be done with it. It took him 3 years to come up with a proof of concept. What was it like taking the leap from working for someone else in a secure job, to starting your own SaaS company? The first thing he did was to have a chat with his wife to tell her what he intended to do. She was supportive. Financially, his job at the time was incredibly stable and didn’t tax him. But what he wanted was something that would allow him to give back. So he took a leap of faith and started his company. Initially, he didn’t pay attention to things like sales and marketing, he was interested in building the software. How did you transform from an engineering only start-up to a full SaaS company with marketing? Ashik had made sure to do his research beforehand, looking at competitors and other SaaS products and how they did things. He acknowledges that he spent too much time trying to add too many features into the software. He started with a website and some basic SEO, which made him realize he needed to change his focus. What difficulties did you face when starting your company? He spent a lot of time trying to please our technology business partners, which helped in the long run, but took too much focus away from initial marketing efforts. He bootstrapped the company instead of looking for investors, as finding the right investors is in itself a full-time job. How much should a bootstrapped founder have to invest in their business? Ashik recommends at least 70-150k in the bank before you attempt to bootstrap your business What advice would you give? Don’t become too attached to your initial product, becoming too attached will make you less likely to listen to critique that you can use to better your product. Start small. Have a vision, and use it during the difficult times to keep you from being distracted and always keep moving towards that vision. Sell the solution, not the product. How does the company look now as compared to the early days? From just Ashik to a full team and partners and resellers. Partners in the USA, Ireland and now Australia. Resources: Websites: DocAcquire Data Automation Books mentioned: The Lean Startup The Challenger Sale Suggest a SaaS founder for the Automate, Delegate, Eliminate show at: firstname.lastname@example.org See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
46 minutes | Sep 16, 2020
The Brains, The Brawn, and The Beauty - David Smith
In season 2 of Automate, Delegate, Eliminate we are paying homage to all those SaaS out there that make those 3 things possible! Our first guest is David Smith of Gravity Forms! David Smith is the Community Lead at RocketGenius and was the company’s first hire. David has been a Gravity Forms developer for over 10 years and has published hundreds of Gravity Forms resources on his blog, GravityWiz.com. He enjoys short walks, preferably NOT on beaches. For those who haven’t heard of Gravity Forms, tell us a bit about it, what does it do? Gravity Forms is the premier Wordpress form builder available for Wordpress It can build pretty much any online form that you need for Wordpress, from payment collection forms to data forms for automation via a service like Zapier. It helps with data collection, data management, and data usage. Who were the founders of Gravity Forms? Carl, Alex, and Kevin. Aka The Brains, The Brawn, and The Beauty. Each founder has a unique personality and ability that they bring to the business. The name of the company, RocketGenius, came from a slip of the tongue from one of the founders. What gave them the idea to start their company? All 3 founders were working for another company, all 3 were entrepreneurs. Carl (the Brains), had the idea to start a travel site together, Tiki Go. They couldn’t get the site to fully take off and decided they needed to leave their full-time jobs to make their new business a reality. When they decided to abandon Tiki Go and quit their day jobs they didn’t actually have a plan for what would come next. What led them to create a form builder? Kevin was already doing freelance web development at the time, using Wordpress a lot, and one of the consistent pain points he ran into was forms. At the time getting the data from the site to its ultimate endpoint didn’t have a good solution. Alex had just built 2 form builders, and all 3 founders had built a form builder at their previous job. This was their Aha! Moment as to what RocketGenius needed to make. One of the legends of Gravity Forms was that the founders gave Alex a task to learn PHP, and he came back the next day and broke ground on Gravity Forms. What did they do to prepare for the launch? They attended the biggest Worpress conference of the time, WordCamp Chicago. Carl and Kevin throw Alex, the shy guy, into a t-shirt that says “Ask Me about Gravity Forms”. They did a lot of networking with the Wordpress community. What sets Gravity Forms apart from competitors? Ease of use, the drag and drop abilities. They were one of the first premium plug-ins. User support. What was the growth of the company like? The revenue grew much faster than the employee base. They wanted to keep the culture of the smaller company for as long as possible. They are currently at 25 employees, with a few contractors as well. They have over 2 million active installs. Up to 56 first-party add-ons Over 300 third party add-ons What would you have done differently? They would not have resisted hiring more employees What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs? Never be afraid to lose your company culture through growth, embrace the growth of the company. Learn how to properly delegate. Stay focused on your key project, even if another seems more interesting at the time. Commit to quality Resources: Websites: Gravity Forms Data Automation Books mentioned: The Lean Startup Leadership and Self Deception The Anatomy of Peace Suggest a SaaS founder for the Automate, Delegate, Eliminate show at: email@example.com See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
40 minutes | Jul 8, 2020
It is better taking the route of the simpler solution - Danny Carlson
Danny Carlson is an FBA entrepreneur specializing in PPC management and listing optimization. He founded the Amazon seller agency Kenji ROI in 2016. He has grown to almost 10 teams. Kenji ROI has served 638+ Amazon sellers with product photography, video copywriting, Amazon SEO, Amazon PPC management services and has produced more than 1300 Amazon product listings. Danny Carlson is also the host of Actualized Freedom podcast - an Amazon FBA Podcast - and the Danny Carlson Podcast - building agencies mindset and lifestyle. He has completed more than 75 interviews with names such as Steve Sims, Manny Coats, Keving King, Daniel D, and Piazza. What did your processes look like before it was automated? What caused you to realize that you needed automation? Carlson says that it takes time to automate, and user error was the biggest reason for automation. There were issues in the team because someone would not be able to find something, and there were roadblocks. There was a virtual assistant put in place, but it was not very accurate. Were your processes originally given to virtual assistants or was it something you were having to do? Carlson says that originally he had to be doing the processes, and it was only later passed on to a virtual; assistant. It was passed off without any real good standard operating procedure in place. Are you using Zapier or using Integra Mat? What are you using to fire off and trigger this automation? Carlson’s automation is all done with Zapier, and they only started using Integra Mat about four months ago. Was this something you automated all at once? What was it like? Carlson says that everything was automated at once, but they changed software over time. Improvements were made to their processes, and they ensure they were kept updated. Carlson says that the magic of having five or six different software all talking to each other is very valuable. Where is the data now? The data is now in their checkout software called Service Provider Pro - where all the client invoicing, order management and everything lives in there. Clients have to fill in a detailed intake form of their project data. It then goes into one Google Drive, slides and sheets, and then goes to specified Trello boards. It then gets sent to Gmail and then back to Service Provider Pro. Tell me a little more about how your operating standard a procedure wasn’t very well written out at first. Carlson says they did not have things figured out in their system and had very little of the basic details figured out. Manual templates and time tracking took a large amount of time to complete. Emails were not set up very well either, they only had about a welcome email when they began, but they added in a lot of tweaks that made it better. Zapier has integration tools with Google Docs. Are you using that functionality to create some of these templates? Carlson says that they do use these templates, and it removes one less thing for virtual assistants to mess up. Why are folder structures a pain? Carlson says that if you don’t have proper folder structures your automation will not be as clean as it can be. Zapier automation creates files for all of the teams and they can then work within those folders and not need to go through everyone’s files. It is also very useful for training new people joining the company because they can be sent to a training folder. Are there any random tips that you have that you use to name things? Carlson says they use the ZZ tip when archiving portfolios for Amazon ads. For naming structures, they use letters to signify what the folders are for. You mentioned several different pieces of software. What pieces of software are you using that you found have helped you automate, delegate, or eliminate? Trello and Service Provider Pro is used for 80% of business management. Service Provider Pro is useful for client communication and order management, but it does not offer very good granular management, which is where Trello comes in play. Trello can be used to create automation and keeps boards from being messy and difficult managing. When customers ask you if you can do “XYZ new thing”, do you tell them you can, or do you look for something you have already productized? Carlson says that they are asking for something that they can’t do, they will refer them to a company that can do what the customers ask. The second way Carlson deals with customers that are searching for XYZ, they will be sent to packages that are priced higher. Tell me more about what it looks like for you as you jump into the more systemized of custom work. It takes more time for custom works, and may slow down the team, and are taken into pricing. Productized services are very rigid and standardized and the team already knows how to do it, and is more efficient and lower costs for the team. There is also a larger sales process by just creating the quote for a custom project. How much time are you saving, having had the 27 steps inside Zapiers? Carlson says they save almost 30 hours a month. Is there any parting but of wisdom you want to share with entrepreneurs? Carlson says that people have the tendency to go towards complicated solutions because there is os much fancy software out there, but it is better taking the route of the simpler solution. Resources: Facebook: Danny Carlson Google Docs Tempalte Zapier: Zapier See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
34 minutes | Jul 1, 2020
Hierarchical structure is essential for everyone to be on the same plane - Ronnie Teja
Ronnie Teja owns 15 different e-commerce companies. He started his first business about six years ago in the watches niche. During the COVID crisis some of his businesses have boomed and others are less so. What got you into e-commerce? Teja immigrated to Canada in 2005, and one of the jobs he took up was selling door to door for a Punjabi radio station and ended up having a burnout. In 2008 Teja decided he wanted to try digital marketing. A job opportunity opened up and went to work for HSBC. A few months later, he decided it was not something he wanted to be doing. Eight months in, Teja then got a job at best buy, and worked there for a few years, and discovered there what proper digital marketing was. Teja then decided he wanted to take a try at digital handling, and that is how his company started. Tell me a little bit about some of the processes that we are going to talk about today. Teja wants to give value back in terms of the entrepreneurial operating system, which he recently implemented. He was working 60-70 hours a week, with a 35 people team. What did things look like before you automated, delegated, or eliminated? Teja’s team was all over the place. They did not have defined company values, they didn't have defined goals in progress, they had no defined bonus structure, there was no structure. Tell me a little bit about what it looked like to implement this process that seems to have given you back some sleep? The first and foremost thing was to implement company values. It was important to be generous, trustworthy, and be quick to service. Once you have your core values, you can eliminate them. Before you can delegate, you need to eliminate employees that do not fit your company values. Teja has three questions he asks in order to establish core values. What else do you have to share with us? In terms of delegation, their company had a very flat structure. Teja was a very engaging boss. This caused people to reach out to Teja at all hours of the day. At this point, it was established that they needed a leadership team. After finding three people that would work well within the leadership team, Teja was getting enough sleep a night. What are some things you added to the rule book that you don’t like? Teja recommends reading the book Culture Code. The rulebook is made around common sense, it is simple rules in life. Teja says there is nothing within his book that is not something that cannot be followed. All his employees are treated like adults who are responsible for their decisions. Tell me about the hierarchy within your business? You need to have a hierarchical structure in order to keep everyone on the same plane. What parting piece of wisdom would you have for individuals that are interested in automation, delegation, and elimination? If you have some money, look for an integrator. Save yourself the heartache of going through the mistakes Teja made. Resources: Website: branzio.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
37 minutes | Jun 24, 2020
Don't be afraid to take a step towards building a team - Carina McLeod
Carina McLeod is very passionate about helping retail brands succeed in the online world. She has 18 years of experience in retail, and 15 years working with Amazon. She has spent the last 8 years supporting sellers and vendors to grow their businesses on Amazon. In 2017, Carina set up a consulting and marketing agency called Ecommerce Nurse, where she and her team help brands of all sizes reach their potential on the Amazon platform. Tell me about your process before you started to delegate, what did it look like before you began to pick it apart and give it to other people? McLeod says that in the beginning, she was trying to do everything herself, she felt as if there was a lot of opportunities here for clients, and never said no, which caused her to stretch herself thin. It was clear then that she needed to delegate the workload, which was not an easy task, as she considered this to be her baby. In essence, it was a make or break situation, she either had to delegate or sustainability would suffer. How many clients did you have before you decided to delegate? McLeod said she had between 10-20 clients before she started to delegate. She spoke to another consultant over what she does, and they asked her how many people she had on her team, and that caused her to realize she needed to start a team, as she was running things herself at that point. Tell us a little bit about this lightbulb moment you had. McLeod sees herself as a doer, and never really saw herself as an entrepreneur until recently, as it developed over time. She says she adopted a doing role and had to take a step back to embrace a management role. As an entrepreneur, you have to develop over time, and find people to delegate into roles, and as she had this light bulb moment, she thought it was time to go out and search for support. How did you find upwork? McLeod says Upwork was mentioned to her. She made a post about what she was looking for and the skill set, however, she says she doesn't think she made it clear, as there was the initial nervousness with hiring someone. As none of the Upwork applicants made her feel comfortable, she searched on other platforms, LinkedIn, particularly for an employee. Trust is the biggest factor for her, and she ended up finding an old colleague she found that she ended up hiring in the end. As her company progressed, she got over her trust issues, and at the time there were so many options for her, but having a person that ticked the boxes of being confident and trustworthy was important to her. Have you ever hired anyone on Upwork? Or did you just decide it was not going to work? McLeod says she did hire someone, but because she was not clear on her post, they were not really for the role she needed. So, there were areas that it worked and areas it did not. Both times she hired someone from Upwork, it did not end up working. The first was due to her not being clear, and the second time worked for a few months before it stopped and she was back to square one. How did you define the role? When it came to defining the role, McLeod had to brainstorm what it was she could not do, and that shaped into a role she needed, which was an account management role. She started putting that in place and then taking the description to the next level, which meant that she started to build out the role, highlighted what they needed and what she was looking for. It was also important for her to look at the type of person that would fit into the role, as a lot of people have the skill set, but they may not have the correct personality fit. How did it feel when you were successful? McLeod says that success felt good, and allowed her to feel comfortable and see the benefits of growth. She has embraced her role as a business owner, a CEO, and ultimately an entrepreneur. She has taken to her management role and built an amazing team through embracing this, and in turn, became a visionary and more creative. She advises any entrepreneur to not be afraid to take the step towards building a team and hiring help sooner, because you will always think back and tell yourself you should have done that sooner, and this will cause you to be more successful. Resources: Website: Ecommercenurse.com See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
30 minutes | Jun 17, 2020
It's not always about saving time, accuracy can be more important - Brian Miller
Brian Miller is the CEO of Easy China Warehouse - a company that focuses on Global E-commerce fulfilment. The idea of Easy Chine Warehouse came from the difficulties the founders experienced for themselves shipping and distributing their products to different countries. Could you give us an overview of what it is you do, and how long you have been doing it? Miller's business helps e-commerce sellers distribute their products from China. After the manufacturing of a product, Easy China Warehouse either stores the product or ships it via air or sea to a fulfilment centre or directly to the consumer. What are some processes that you have automated in your warehouse? One of the most important parts of a business - taking orders and fulfilling them. They used to take Excel sheets and plug those into our DHL Shipment Carrier system. It used to be very rudimentary with nothing but a computer and a label printer. So they had to look at how to bring in a lower-skilled worker to fill in this step. Miller also had to ensure that there were safety measures in place to protect them. So, they went out and researched different Warehouse Management software. They settled on a software that is very basic but allows you to build your own API or things such as that. What would have happened if you had not manually done shipments before automating it? What would be different? Miller explains that you will understand where the pain points are. Once you take excel files and copy them into our system, there can be a lot of errors. This allows you to establish whether or not you need the software and the features you need. How many different software did you look at before choosing your software? And how much time did you invest in each software? Miller said they looked at 15-20 different Warehouse Management software. He had a base idea of what kind of software they needed, and that they only knew 5% of what they needed to know. Miller explains that the software was more like demos. The software is also pretty expensive, at least for a startup business such as Millers at the time. He says that they went to a lot of companies and those companies had their salesperson explain the ins and outs of the software the company represented, and they would ask questions they felt were relevant to their company. There was an idea of a few carriers that could have been used, and as the company grew, they started going into more detail of what was needed. How did you decide that an error was going to cost your business money? Miller explains that knowing and understanding errors is not only good for optimization but also customer retention. He explains an example that states before he worked with a company in the US that constantly made errors and he would constantly have to message them to remind them of orders that it aggravated him and they lost his business. This made Miller see how much he was making mistakes, despite how hard he was trying. Miller came to the conclusion that software is needed then. Which software did you end up choosing after everything? Miller said that they needed software that was in Chinese because their whole team was Chinese. They ended up choosing RTB - Ron Tombow - which is a Shenzhen startup that does Warehouse Management software. What does the process afterwards look like? What does it look like for your business? Miller says that the biggest value for them is to scale. The accuracy of orders, shipping labels and billing will allow them to add more people and clients. The biggest effect it has had for them is the ability to scale quickly and rapidly. What is a parting piece of wisdom you would like to share with entrepreneurs and other guests? Miller says that he always gets into a trap of looking for immediate ROI. He says that it would be best if you spend a few minutes getting to know your own software, you will have a better understanding of it and its different features. Also, go back on the software from time to time, Miller suggests you learn the stuff you own now. Resources: Email: email@example.com Website: easychinawarehouse.com See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
39 minutes | Jun 10, 2020
Combining automation and delegation in your content marketing for an excellent effect - Greg Elfrink
In today’s episode, I have Greg Elfrink as a guest, and together we look into the processes of automation, delegation, and elimination. Greg is the director of marketing for Empire Flippers and is in charge of goal setting, implementation, and everything in between. His big goal is to make the Empire Flippers more mainstream and to help investors see the power of digital assets while helping sellers make life-changing decisions. Are we talking about automating, delegating, or eliminating specific processes today? (06:52) Greg says their company has expanded dramatically in the last few years, so they are automatically leaning towards automation. The processes they have automated include; marketing funnels, sales funnels, outreach, and even podcast outreach. They have eliminated some processes. In most cases, they didn’t eliminate the whole process but rather tweaked parts of it. The process he decided on is automation, because he thinks it would be relevant for most eCommerce entrepreneurs. Automation is useful not only for eCommerce but for any business model. There’s always a better way to automate your content marketing, and if you can combine automation and delegation, you can create an excellent effect. What does the pre-automation process look like? (09:11) He says before they automated most of it, or even before he was equipped with a team, he used to handle everything by himself. His tasks included writing blog posts, using SEO tools to find keywords, writing the actual content, etc. One of the most time-consuming tasks was seller interviews; this is the process of interviewing every single seller that entered the Empire Flippers marketplace. Additionally, he was writing guest posts for different publications, media sites, and magazines. He also attended conferences, which he likes to refer to as dark content. He describes dark content as the type of information that vanishes after it has been delivered. This is the case with conferences; no one, aside from the people attending, has access to your content after it has been delivered. He believes that you can’t scale that type of value; someone who does all these things all the time. This is where the process started. What made you decide whether to automate, delegate, or eliminate the content dissemination process? (17:36) Greg says he is a marketer at heart, so he always leans towards automation as much as possible. Automation also provides data that is new and relevant. With content marketing, there will always be some manual processes involved, someone has to create the content. However, you can create a process that will simplify the creation process dramatically. Once you’ve perfected this process, you hand it over to your team, so that they also gave the tools to create content fast and efficiently. Every process should be done manually five times, before being automated. What does that mean for you? (19:25) He says its not something he has consciously thought about, but they have been doing it that way for a long time. Iteration is key in perfecting a process. It allows you to recognize which part of the process can be improved on, which can be taken out, and what just needs a bit of work. He says when they hire new marketers, he tells them to stick with the original process for at least three months. Marketers are dreamers, and he realizes the fact that they might notice opportunities for change. He wants the new personnel to identify all the little frustrations that were missed during the building of the process. After three months, they are granted the opportunity to name the parts of the process they would like to change/simplify. Having an outsider give input is always a good idea. When it’s your own process, you are too close, so you tend to overlook the weaknesses. What process do you use when deciding to automate? (25:50) Greg says he works on a checklist. Every time a mistake is made, he creates a checklist for that process. As he goes through the checklist, he asks himself whether that step can be automated. He automated their marketing funnel, for example, by creating a software tool that allows people to get an automatic valuation of their business. He recognizes the fact that different entrepreneurs have different business models. Ecommerce entrepreneurs, for instance, have different needs than an Amazon affiliate site builder. He wants to be able to communicate with all these people, so he created automation inside the valuation tool based on the different business models. Based on their respective business model, they receive very different emails with their industry jargon. He gets to speak to all of them at once, using a once-off automation process. If there isn’t a software tool to automate a process, he looks into delegating. When doing so, he looks for the most automated way to delegate. In other words, finding someone that has the skill and service that can do the best work, in the shortest amount of time. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25 minutes | Jun 3, 2020
Big decisions have to be made with little data to rely on - Orion Avidan
In today’s episode, I am interviewing Orion Avidan about the process of elimination and delegation, and what that means for her. Also, we touch on topics like replenishment, and what her processes would look like if done manually. Orion is the chief inventory profitability expert at Retail Adventure. In addition, she helps Amazon sellers increase their Margins by 20% through excess inventory elimination, and does this using the balanced inventory system. She is a caring, detail-oriented individual who has worked at hospitals, a chemical plant, startups, marketing agencies, etc. Tell us about yourself and your origin story? (01:58) Orion says he came from a very academic background, where they were taught to go to school, go to college, and obtain numerous degrees. Finally, you enter the job world where you work to get promoted. Life happened, and everything didn’t go according to plan for her. She didn’t fit into the job world, and couldn’t get along with employers. She realized that she wanted to do something valuable that could contribute to the world. She didn’t want to be stuck in just another job. She accidentally ran into Dr. Eli Goldratt, who developed the theory of constraints. She was mesmerized, and before long, she was attending all his conferences and challenging what he was teaching. She started looking for a niche she would fit into and found that inventory was her passion, and she could add a lot of value to it. What process are we focusing on today? (04:33) She says our topic at hand will be replenishment, which is the process of deciding how much inventory is needed, which exact SKU to bring in, where you want them in your supply chain, and at what time. Looking at it from a manual standpoint, replenishment is a big data process; a lot of decisions have to be made for every item at the SKU level. Doing it manually is very intensive, and requires a lot of data collection. There are a lot of dots to connect, and heuristics to abide by. Big decisions have to be made with little data to rely on. What’s more; they don’t know how their decisions will impact, or be impacted by the future. This process is hard, complex, and very fragile. In terms of where the data is now, where it needs to go, and what happens to it in between, what is the spark for you? (07:09) Orion says some of the data is readily available, or easy to obtain. For instance, how many units do you have available on Amazon? That data is available and trustworthy on Amazon. Other pieces of data are not only unavailable, but they also don’t exist. This non-existent data contain questions like how many units will your customer wants in two months, or who will be your keyword competitors in three months’ time? She says our current situation with COVID-19 is a good example; no one predicted a lockdown, yet you have to run your inventory through it. What does it look like when you decide to delegate a task? (15:25) Orion says she is currently delegation two tasks in her life, the first is financial tasks like bills. She says it’s very hard to automate this process, because the data shifts around, but its always the same data that has to be entered into the system correctly. Her 15-year-old son is in charge of completing this task. The second task she delegates is content creation. She writes her own content for LinkedIn and articles, but someone else proofreads and edits it. Her writing is very technical, so she has someone who edits her writing in such a manner that it’s understandable for everyone else. This process requires someone who is not a machine, who can apply judgment. It has to be an external person because she is too involved. How do you decide whether a process should be eliminated? (16:48) Orion says it’s a difficult question for her because she’s very bad at eliminating. She’s quite attached to her processes. She doesn’t like letting things go, but the first thing she eliminated was her tendency to jump in and help when the other person didn’t necessarily want her help. In inventory, you need to eliminate the idea that you know what will happen in the future so that you can work on what is happening now. Let the market pull you, instead of trying to push back. In her own life, she is trying to stop pushing herself, and those around her, into doing things. She’s trying to find a way to pull, instead of push. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
37 minutes | May 27, 2020
Increase efficiency through the process of elimination - Jud Harris
As today’s guest, I am interviewing Jud Harris from ShipStation - a web-based shipping software for eCommerce retailers. Jud is the director of engineering at ShipEngine, which is ShipStation’s sister company, as well as the underlying platform on which ShipStation runs. How does ShipStation relate to ShipEngine? And how did you become part of this team? (01:40) Jud explains that ShipEngine grew out of ShipStation, which was founded in 2009 as a shipping application on top of eBay. It helps people automate the printing of shipping labels and fulfilling eBay orders. He joined ShipStation in 2016 when the company wanted to productize the shipping API as a standalone product, and that’s is how Ship Engine came to be. ShipEngine is the underlying platform that runs ShipStation. It became apparent that it would be worthwhile to productize that and expose it directly to the market. ShipEngine is both a product for people looking for a shipping API and logistics API, as well as an underlying platform for running all those aspects. Let’s talk about the automation that is ShipStation. How did you become part of this amazing organization? (03:05) Prior to ShipStation, Judd was part of a company called Amplifier. He was one of their first employees and helped build the company over the years. He has been in logistics and fulfillment since 2000. He was with Amplifier for a decade and a half where he was involved in IT, development, and even driving the trucks. His ability to fill all these diverse roles, along with building out the technology platform meant moving to ShipStation was a natural extension. He joined the software industry in 1994 while in high school when he got a job at an internet service provider. Part of his role in the company was provisioning ISDN modems, which was a very manual and time-consuming process. Looking at ShipStation, what processes are being automated, delegated, or eliminated? (14:58) He says a good place to start is their mission statement, which is condensed around the possibilities of elimination. For the CEO and executive team, elimination came into play with the mission statement. They created something short and easily remembered: “wherever you go, whatever you ship, exceptionally efficient.” ShipStation comes into play when a merchant knows who their sales target market is, and they have enough orders that they need to get to their customers. They import orders from any online platform the merchant is selling on, and from there the merchant centrally manages the entire order fulfillment process. On the back end, ShipStation integrates with any available shipping carrier, so the process of getting the order to the customer is solved on the delivery side as well. Solving the shipping label generation, as well as the order import problem is a big component of the automation of a merchant’s fulfillment business. If a seller wants to offer free shipping, how can they utilize Ship Station to do that in an economical way? (20:51) Jud says nothing is free and especially shipping. Products can’t be delivered for free, so if a seller offers free shipping, it means that they have worked the cost into the product price, or their general cost of business. ShipStation gives the merchant the ability to map free shipping to any number of shipping methods from any carrier supported by the system. It can also help set up automation rules that will result in the best shipping methods, that are relative to the seller’s goals. Sometimes, free shipping means there’s no guaranteed delivery time; products will be delivered using the most cost-effective method or can be bounded by some kind of service level. When you integrate with ShipEngine, you get access to any shipping carrier through a common API interface. You can use this tool to acquire rates from multiple shipping carriers and apply your own rules and customs to translate that free shipping into your desired outcome. What wisdom or advice would you give to entrepreneurs? (33:48) Jud says one of the most important struggles any entrepreneur should have is balancing the product-market fit with good architecture. When looking at the technical aspect of architecture, structuring the naming of your concepts is one of the most important things you can do. The words that people use for your concepts now, will be the same words used 5 years later. Investing an hour or two on wording early on will save you a lot of time and money in the future. Trying to rectify something a few years down the line will be expensive and timely. However, none of this matters if no one wants your product, so first make sure that people want what you’re selling, and then be sure to hire someone to handle naming for you. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
40 minutes | May 20, 2020
Software selection, similar processes and regular tasks - Isaac Smith
In today’s episode, we have Isaac Smith as a guest, and together we discuss helpful tools to manage your business. Isaac is the CEO and co-founder of Summit eCommerce Advisors, which he co-founded after selling his business in 2019. He has been building eCommerce businesses for over six years. In addition, he hosts a podcast called Next Level eCommerce, where he interviews successful eCommerce entrepreneurs. What brought you to where you are today? (01:22) Isaac used to be an architect who designed buildings in Washington DC. He says he loved what he was doing, but lost interest along the way. He says as, with most entrepreneurs, he didn’t start out this way. There was a lot of experimentation and trial and error, but he eventually found his way to eCommerce and has been on that path ever since. He did high ticket drop shipping for several years until he sold the company. He describes his journey as an adventure and is still excited about the unknown. Since then, he has started this bookkeeping company (Summit eCommerce Advisors). The motivation behind starting the business is that he discovered that a lot of people struggle with the bookkeeping part of a business, and while he still had his own company, he thought he was the problem, but later realized that this was a common issue for business owners. He adds that the podcast is just a fun way to interact with other successful individuals. What processes are we going to look at today? (06:10) Isaac thinks a great topic would be providing context to an overall business process. He used Trello to organize his business in eCommerce and had a handful of processes run through Trello. However, now that he is running a service-based business, which requires different processes and types of activities, they considered whether Trello would still be sufficient. They were looking for a tool that could organize the whole company; all the tasks and projects should be in one place so that they don’t have to search for things on different platforms. They started using Wrike, which is a relatively expensive tool, but it gets the job done. He says this is not a single process discussion, because there are many different tools for many different tasks. And if you decide to plan ahead, what would be the best tool to use? What would the inside of your company look like if you weren’t using a tool like Trello or Wrike? (08:37) Isaac says he has been using all these tools for so long, that going without them is foreign territory for him. There would probably be a lot of email communication, but they mainly use Slack to minimize the use of emails. Spreadsheets would largely come into play because they’d have to know the status of each client. Before he became aware of Trello, he built a content management team that would research, write, edit, publish, and advertise the blog posts twice a month. Everything was run from a spreadsheet, where they would mark the tasks they’ve completed. Trello and Wrike have simplified that process significantly. Were there any sticking points for you, between Trello and Wrike? (24:44) Isaac says his biggest concern with Trello was the notification management. Although they rebuilt their notification system about two years ago, it’s still not up to par. They were tracking orders through various Trello boards, and as the process moved from one point to another, there would be a lot of comments or notes between him and the staff. Throughout the say, a lot of notifications arise. The problem came in when the notifications disappeared after being opened. So if there are 30 notifications, and you can’t tend to them immediately, you can’t go back to see what it was, because it won’t be there anymore. Summing it up, there’s a lot of notifications that require action or feedback, but there’s no place to find your notifications. This means a lot of communication is lost. Are there any services or special you want to share with us? (37:44) Isaac says if you want to find out what he’s doing, the best way would be to tune into his podcast called Next Level eCommerce. You can also search for him on Facebook, or send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Seeing that they have a bookkeeping company, they assist in implementing cash management systems. They offer a 30-minute no-cost cash strategy session that will help people understand and manage their cash flow. This 30-minute session will provide you with three actions to survive, and three actions to thrive. They will help you get through this financial crunch, as well as see the opportunities available to thrive. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
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