January 05, 2024

01:00:02

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Brian Casel Jordan Gal
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Bootstrapped Web
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Jan 05 2024 | 01:00:02

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Show Notes

New Year, new start, a blank canvas...  Working more (or less).  Clarityflow Commerce.  New brand name.  YouTube.  Growing pipeline.  Selling a product two ways.  Runway pressure.  Just another year :)

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:17] Speaker A: Bootstrapped Web 2024 Jordan Happy new year, budy. [00:00:22] Speaker B: Happy new year to you. We've got a, a blank canvas ahead of us. [00:00:28] Speaker A: A new start, if you will. A new day, another year. Oh, man. [00:00:34] Speaker B: Yeah. So I just got back last night. [00:00:37] Speaker A: Where were you? [00:00:38] Speaker B: I was in Washington, DC with my sister in law and her family, and then we were in New York with my brothers and their families and my mom. And our school district has off this week. [00:00:54] Speaker A: Oh, that's right. You got that crazy. [00:00:56] Speaker B: So we were fully off, and it has made for a pretty awkward transition for me because everyone's pumped up at the company, everyone's ready to get out of the gate. But I'm the only one with kids that are off this week, so I'm still traveling, so I feel guilty. And today is my first day back at work, which is Friday, and so it's really just a bunch of meetings and getting caught up. So I'm a little out of sync with everyone else. They got back on Tuesday on the second and started going, and now I'm catching up and it feels pretty awkward, but I got to just go through it. [00:01:29] Speaker A: How about you? That's cool. Yeah. Back to full time work just like everyone else around January 2. But we did a quick family trip up to Vermont in between Christmas and New Year's to try to go skiing. We did go skiing for half a day in the foggy, rainy, not enough snow weather in the northeast. But my kids, they only really need like half the mountain anyway, so that worked just fine. They still had a blast and the Airbnb had a Nintendo wi, and they were thrilled about that. [00:02:02] Speaker B: Yeah, they're all good. [00:02:05] Speaker A: Great. Yeah. But other than that, pretty low key. Working my ass off trying to. Tried to take a little bit of time off around the holidays, and I did with the road trip, but still grinding. That's the story. [00:02:21] Speaker B: Still grinding. [00:02:22] Speaker A: It's another year, but it feels like just another week. But you know what? We'll get into it. But I really did feel like I turned the corner in terms of which business I'm focusing more time on now. [00:02:35] Speaker B: Okay. You feel a little more sorted in your head on where the energy and priorities and that's what the last two weeks for me felt like, a calming. And then as I get more energy to go into this month, just trying to go at it from an organized mind as opposed to the chaos that the end of the year is just. Everything just starts falling apart. And then I wasn't home and I still have some things to do from the time that I wanted to wrap things up, but it feels like an organized, focused mind was the really important thing for me. [00:03:12] Speaker A: Yeah, definitely the same thing. And also, the end of 2023 marked the end of three full years of working on the clarity flow business full time, with no other things in my portfolio during that time. And we launched Clarity Flow commerce like a few days before Christmas in December, which was a big deal for the roadmap. I had been talking about that. That's our big stripe integration. It lets coaches sell products through. Clarity flow works really well. We spent many months on it and it just felt great to get that out right before the end of the year. But that marks in my mind a big milestone in this business, which is like, that takes us to quote unquote feature complete. There's little things that we're going to keep shipping throughout the year coming up, but it also met a pretty good response from customers. We had a bunch of new sign ups happen right around Christmas and New Year's as a result of clarity flow commerce. So despite the holidays, people were still signing up, which I think should spill into a nice little bump here in January. But it'll be really interesting to see, like I'm already seeing here in the first week of January, responses to our outreach campaigns and things, and people are signing up and people are much more engaged with the product, which results in more onboarding support for me and things like that. But all that to say, I'm actively still in the mindset of like, okay, clarity flow is now becoming one SaaS business that is sort of a side focus for me now. I'm now, for all intents and purposes, like full time focused on a new business and that's the plan in 2024, start up something new and I can get much more into it. I actually came up with a new name for this business and everything and we can get into it. But the challenge and the pressure that I'm feeling is sort of as expected. It's still managing multiple businesses and I have a couple hours a day that I do have to attend to some clarity flow work, but I'm trying to put the majority of my hours into YouTube content and building out this new brand and the game plan on this business. And part of this is bringing in some first revenue through some advising. I'm doing some product strategy advising with some SaaS companies now that's on the plate as well. So it's really a matter of managing my time day to day and it's a big challenge, to be honest. But that's where I've ended up. That's what sort of has to be done. I don't see another path forward other than doing this. And it's like, I know exactly what I'm doing. I've moved through the strategic decision making and choices and option a, option b, that all happened over the last three months. I've settled on a direction. Now it's just execute time. Just go. Yeah. [00:06:43] Speaker B: Which is a better place to be than a bunch of uncertainty. [00:06:46] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:06:48] Speaker B: Okay. Yeah. From my side of things, I feel a pretty significant amount of pressure internally. Like self generated pressure. It's not the market, it's not investors. It's the company and the people and the goals internally. It could also. I mean, it definitely has something to do with today's the first day I'm back at work in, like, two weeks. And that just so it's a bit of a hectic day in terms of trying to get the to do list sorted. I'll definitely do some work this weekend to make progress, to almost make myself feel better that I'm getting further along. But when I talk to people on the team, everyone's very, very excited and everyone's very focused, and everyone wants to get out of the gate the right way. The best thing we can do for ourselves is have a good January. That's the best thing we can do. So we don't feel like we're behind right away. It feels like we're ahead right away. [00:07:48] Speaker A: I got a quick. Maybe it's like a therapy question for you. You talked about like this. You put this pressure on yourself, and the way that you deal with that is by putting in some extra hours this weekend, because that very much resonates with my struggle, that I always feel like I'm behind and I put a ton of pressure on myself. And I usually deal with that by putting in more hours than I would like to in general. And that looks like putting in hours during the weekends, putting hours while we're at an Airbnb on vacation, it looks like. Not like I would love to have a business where I could just take a month off or a week off and feel like, oh, the business is steady going, but that's not a reality. So I feel like I have to work those extra nights or extra days. How do you think about that? [00:08:45] Speaker B: Yeah, that's not my typical response, but it feels like now what I want is to be at peace with the pressure and allow it to bring out good work. Right. As opposed to feeling that pressure and feeling bad about not doing enough, or whatever the negative version of the response is, I want it to be the positive version. I want to say, hey, the salespeople are pumped up the SDR product. Everyone's really excited, and everyone has their role, and I am not outside of that individual contribution, which means I have pressure from my colleagues. And it's not pressure. They're not looking at me saying, like, hurry up and do this. I don't want to let them down. So that gets me into a place where I want to go beyond the normal hours and dip into the weekend and whatever else my normal response is, let me confine it to the workday. And if I need pressure, it's to be more effective during the day. It's not to let it leak out all over the place. I did that for a while, where it leaked out into the evenings, and what I found myself doing was effectively putting things off until the evening. I'd say this is a task that requires 20 or 30 minutes of straight focus, and I can do that better in the evening than now. So let me add it to my tonight list. And that became unhealthy because then I was just constantly tired and constantly feeling guilty and constantly moving things from one list to another, and that just did not work well for me. [00:10:28] Speaker A: Yeah, I hear that. I mean, I don't really generally don't let things bleed into the night. That is usually like, dinner time and onward is relaxation time, usually. But I think the thing that I'm dealing with now, that's generally just how I deal with that sort of pressure is like, I just set these arbitrary deadlines for all these different things that I like. Oh, by, because I have a trip coming, I've got big snow, tiny comp coming up in like two weeks from now. And I'm thinking about actually two back to back trips starting two weeks from now. And so I'm just thinking about all the things that I want to have either shipped or produced or ready to go before I head on these trips. Then I just start to set. Like, all right, well, if I'm going to ship these things in two weeks, then I need to be shipping this this week. And that means every day counts here, and I can't finish my day until I do this or that. And also the challenge, again, is that I've got clarity flow work. I've got this new business work. I've got things going on that I still set deadlines as if I have a single business. It's almost like when I set deadlines for this new business. I want to produce x number of YouTube videos or I want to launch this site by next Tuesday or something like that. I'm just looking at that in the confines of this one business. But I'm just ignoring the fact that. But there's going to be this support task on clarity flow or I got to give my developer something to do for the rest of the week that's going to take me a couple of hours. I'm just ignoring all these extra responsibilities and that's where things start to pile up. It's really annoying. [00:12:15] Speaker B: Yeah, I think that's normal. Regardless of what happens in terms of how many businesses or different projects or anything like that, there are always a very small handful of the most important things and then a dozen or two dozen or more other things conspiring to get in the way. The way I'm looking at that is like I'm almost thinking of myself as an individual contributor on certain things where I'm saying that's my primary job. I have secondary jobs right now. I happen to be a marketer. So the most important thing that I can do in the company is work with the designer to refresh the website so that it more accurately describes what we're offering. Getting things into the hands of the go to market team like pdfs and landing pages of these new things that we're offering. Working with the marketing agency to get LinkedIn ads running so that I feel like is like you have to do your primary job before you go off and do any side project, side quest side tasks. And that's when I say pressure from the team, it's really like, well, what we've identified, the most important thing for us to get out of the gate in a strong way is to increase pipeline. Right. Not like just deals closed or something like that. Just new opportunities in the pipeline. [00:13:43] Speaker A: What does that look like? What are you doing? [00:13:45] Speaker B: Right. You have to think through. Okay, well, what efforts can you want to hire four sdrs at once or look to an outsourced team that allows you to hire sdrs very quickly? Right. That's one way to do it. I don't think we're going to end up doing that. I've not had success with that. There are different channels. So one of the ways that we can increase pipeline and opportunities is to have our AES do more prospecting this month. [00:14:16] Speaker A: Yeah, I was going to say maybe instead of just what is the limiting factor? It doesn't seem like one SDR is maxed out. Right. How can we get more pipeline out of each person who's already doing this. [00:14:34] Speaker B: Right out of each one, or do we want to hire another one? I'm generally feeling an aggressive stance is right in terms of spending money and resources. So there are events. There are a lot of events in the first half of the year around e commerce. So there's nRF. That's in two weeks. Then we're sponsoring a few more. One that's in Phoenix and another one after that. I don't know if it's Minneapolis or somewhere else, but we have like six of those coming up for the year. Then there's shop talk. So that's one channel. And then a channel that I'm very interested in is the LinkedIn ads. And increasing budget is a very efficient way. I don't yet know the results, so I don't know what comes back from that. But at least that's a channel that we can just say, you know what? Add 50% to the budget. Hopefully that adds. So that is my primary focus is, okay if everyone around me is saying we want more opportunities. Where we did a demo today felt so good. Like, first day back, do a demo. And the prospect is like, I'm good. I'm ready to buy. I don't need any more. Tell me what you need to know, what questions you have. Here's how it works. The CEO is on board. The CEO is actually the person that forward me the email and asked me to look into it. So the CEO is already on board. Like, I just need price. So that's like, as many of those conversations as possible, please. So it feels like we have a good opportunity to get a deal closed in the next call, two weeks or so to actually get something signed. Nice. But everything is focused on pipeline, so there are things that must be done immediately on the to do list. And then a little bit beyond that. It's thinking creatively around, like, okay, should we go to events? Should we sponsor a dinner at the event? What other things can we do? There are only so many levers to pull. [00:16:28] Speaker A: Yes. Good stuff, man. Let me talk about this brand name thing. [00:16:38] Speaker B: Okay, cool. [00:16:40] Speaker A: So I think I had mentioned in previous episodes my new content business that I'm starting up. I had been working with the brand name that I had used called instrumental products. I'm actually going to be ditching that name and I came up with a new one. The new name going forward, I'm going to say it here and I have a domain for it, but I don't have a website up. And we plan to publish this episode today. So if you listen today or tomorrow, there is not going to be a website there. You're going to see the GoDaddy parked domain name that I just bought two days ago. That domain is Fullstackfounder Co. Okay, so Full Stack founder is the brand name that I'm going to be going with. I also inquired about the I'm waiting to see if there's a response about that. But the, so the nameful, yeah, so the name full stack founder is I'm helping people become a full stack founder. And how this came about was I started drafting copy for what's going to be the new website. But when I started drafting, I was still thinking like it would still live on instrumentalproducts.com. But as I started writing the copy, it just started to kind of flow out of me. The first headline is full stack founders are the new superheroes. And just this idea of being a full stack founder gives you this unfair advantage to be able to talk to customers, design a product, build and code and ship a product, launch it, bootstrap it without the need to spend a ton of money on outsourcing, or needing to partner, or needing to raise a lot of investment just to be able to build and ship a product. Right? So that's the journey that I went on. I transitioned from just a designer and marketer to full stack product developer, Full Stack founder. I made that transition about six or seven years ago and have been building on that skill set ever since. As I started writing. I think just writing the copy for a home page of a marketing site is such a great exercise in zeroing in on who you're writing to, who your target customer is. And that's exactly what happened for me. I knew that this direction should be the starting point was help product strategy, building products. The product side of businesses is where I'm most interested in focusing this business. But as the weeks and months went on, in starting to work on this and through a bit of coaching, I started taking on some coaching clients and I started bringing in some consulting and advising gigs on product strategy through all that stuff, started to filter in like, all right, where do I want to focus my time? And especially since I'm building a YouTube channel now, what is that thing that I'm teaching? What is the journey that I'm taking you on? And I feel like the thing that's most interesting to me and has the most legs is helping people become a full stack founder. And a lot of that is built around the idea of learning to code so that's going to be the focus. Writing that copy and then landing on that name is helping me zero in even more. And I like the name because it fits all the different potential iterations of this. [00:20:35] Speaker B: You can do software you can. [00:20:38] Speaker A: So like the new website, it's starting. I, when I launch it a few days from now, you're going to see three ways that I can help you. One is like free videos on my YouTube channel that I'm doing, or get the free full Stack founder newsletter or work with me and I can bring my founder skills to your SaaS company. And pretty soon, like later in the year, there could be a full stack founder courses, maybe a full stack founder community. I don't know, maybe that could be like the name of a book someday. There are so many different ways that this brand name can be applied. [00:21:15] Speaker B: It feels very authentic to you and that feels right in terms of you can just talk about what you're genuinely most interested in. It clarifies for the person reading it immediately if it's right for them or not. [00:21:36] Speaker A: Yeah, exactly. I think a key factor when you're doing this creator type business is to start to really zero in on a theme. Not only a target customer, but a theme. A couple of years back, I sort of built a whole thing around productized services. The word productize started to become associated with what I'm doing. And I think I'm trying to do that same sort of playbook here where it's like full stack founder is the concept, the theme that I want you to think of when you think of this brand that you know and YouTube. [00:22:14] Speaker B: Man, can you tell me a little bit about YouTube? [00:22:18] Speaker A: What's going on? I've been learning so much. I actually just published the first two videos on my YouTube channel, which I got the name. So YouTube slash full stack founder, that's my channel. Okay. I still have a lot of work to do on sprucing up this channel and putting the brand stuff on it and everything. But two videos half published two days ago. I've got two or three more coming next week. They're my first videos of this new run, so I feel like they're actually pretty good. But there are so many things I want to improve in future videos. Learning a ton about production, about getting the lighting right, the camera, the editing and all of that, and the script writing. But I just got to tell you, this is why I'm excited about investing in YouTube. I published literally all I did before just talking about it here on this podcast. I did zero promotion of these two videos that I published about 24 hours ago. [00:23:25] Speaker B: So literally just published into, I did. [00:23:27] Speaker A: Not tweet them, I did not send them to any email newsletter, just hit publish on YouTube. That's all I did. And in the last 24 hours, they both accumulated, they accumulated like 60 views each. 120 new people watching my content. All I did was click publish on. [00:23:46] Speaker B: YouTube after 24 hours. No 24 hours subscribers for YouTube. [00:23:50] Speaker A: That's not very many, of course. Sure. But you cannot say the same thing about, like, if I publish a tweet, am I going to get 120 new people? Or if I publish a blog post on my website, am I going to get 120 new visitors just by publishing? Like, absolutely no, that does not happen. You're spending thousands of dollars on ads or SEO or newsletter or promotion or links to get that many eyeballs on your content in 24 hours on YouTube, it's click publish. YouTube serves it to their audience. Obviously, the only way that happens, of course, is if you invest in getting the topic right, getting the thumbnail right, getting the content right. And so that takes a lot of work, of course. But the idea is that if you can put the effort into the creation side, then YouTube's algorithm does its thing. That's the. [00:24:49] Speaker B: More you're going for the more polished approach I am. That's just what feels right for you in the audience and target. [00:24:58] Speaker A: Yeah, I'm not trying to do it. There's always the argument to me like, oh, just throw your iPhone on and do a rough mvp of this thing. And I don't know, I like going all in on the creative side, continue with the authenticity. Yeah, I like it that way. And the way that the production line looks that I'm trying to build up toward right now is like every week I'm writing a new script, I'm shooting, I'm editing that for YouTube. I'm taking that script, I'm publishing it as an article on Fullstackfounder Co. I'm sending it to the newsletter, I'm sending it as a couple, like, that's the production engine. And it all starts with concepts for videos and shooting them as videos, and then it repurposes out from there. That's the production and big picture. It's like, if I can get this engine up and running now, which I'm doing, this is going to be like the core of this business is this content, top of funnel distribution, audience thing. And then hopefully by midway through the year, by Q three, I would like to see some audience growth, see who's resonating with which topics and see how that translates into some first products to start offering. My guess right now is there'll probably be some form of courses, but later in the year it's like, let's see how we can monetize this. For now, it's just get the distribution engine started. [00:26:32] Speaker B: Fascinating. I'm psyched that we get to talk about this regularly because I am very interested in that. [00:26:38] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:26:38] Speaker B: And it feels like it's different. YouTube feels a bit more legit than like if you did the same thing on TikTok and it showed you had a few hundred views, I don't know if I would believe any of them. [00:26:50] Speaker A: Right. And there's also the question of like, do I start getting into YouTube shorts, which is like their version of TikTok? So far I'm not. Maybe at some point, but right now I'm focusing on what they call long form videos, which are in my case between eight and 12 minutes long, each one. And that's what I'm doing. Okay, very cool. My other podcast has been open threads. I'm going to be renaming that to be the full stack founder podcast. [00:27:21] Speaker B: Okay. [00:27:22] Speaker A: Same concept for the podcast. I'm just going to rename it, keep it all under the same brand and that'll be that. [00:27:26] Speaker B: Yeah. I wonder if you end up having categories of content between marketing, sales, product design, development, outsourcing. [00:27:36] Speaker A: Yeah, I'm already making a big list of topics that I want to do videos about and they definitely fall into different buckets. There's like the learn how to code bucket, which might do better with YouTube SEO, people searching for technical topics like learn how to code topics. And then there's the whole bucket of bootstrapping and entrepreneurship and starting up products. There's just the idea of should I learn to code or not? And inspiration and energizing people to decide to learn to code. There's a lot of that type of content in there. Yeah. And then there's another bucket, of course, would be like design too, how to kind of hack your way through figma. So you might even have some technical skills, but you want to get better on the design side. Or there's going to be designers who just want to learn the technical skills and all of them learning about how to get first customers, how to talk to customers, and how to ship your own products. [00:28:41] Speaker B: Anyone who wants to become a more full stack founder is going to be walking in with their specific skill set and then will have gaps that they need to address. [00:28:51] Speaker A: Exactly. That's the thinking. And the other angle for me, by landing on this name, full stack founder. It's like there's a lot of content on how to learn to code, ranging from beginner to advanced level content out there. [00:29:06] Speaker B: Yeah. I assume you're not trying to compete with that, but more. [00:29:08] Speaker A: Really not. No. The difference, I will be teaching a lot of that stuff, but it's from the angle of like, let me teach you just enough to be able to build and ship your own products and bootstrap your own and not go get hired at a tech company. [00:29:23] Speaker B: Right. Maybe recommending places to learn certain things and tools to use. Basically all the stuff that you would have to go and research yourself. You're just bringing that directly to the. [00:29:35] Speaker A: Yeah. And giving you the shortcuts, giving you like, here's what's important to learn, and here's what you could just get by with just enough. And here's how to kind of fill in the gaps or go use these tools or how to hire and outsource while knowing enough to be able to manage them well and things like that. [00:29:53] Speaker B: Cool. Well, to go in a very different direction. [00:29:58] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:29:59] Speaker B: One of the things on my mind is really working backwards from a fundraising effort and looking ahead, call it twelve months. And then thinking through, all right, what do we need to do to get to a place that leads to a successful fundraise? And when I do that, because we're not ready for it now. Right. We need to get ready for it. And when I work backwards from where we want to be to where we are today, it's a good amount of pressure. [00:30:37] Speaker A: What's the time frame that you're thinking of here? Do you have a time frame? [00:30:42] Speaker B: Call it twelve months, because what we want to do is make sure that we are going to market at the optimal time. And that is a combination of when our metrics look good, the natural cycle of the market. So there are probably two opportunities to do that. One is like in the fall, right, when vcs get back from their winter, excuse me, from their summer breaks. So September, October before thanksgiving, it's basically between September 1 and like the middle of November, that slot you can fit a fundraise into. You don't want to creep into the holidays. And the first six months of the year is when people buy and sign. And so you could see how in September you're like, okay, here's how things are going. And it looks like it's on an upswing. That's one potential. The other potential is right around this time of year where our November and December were by far our best revenue months ever. And it's because we did a bunch of selling, we did a bunch of signing and onboarding, and then everything booms for the entire industry in November and December, and everything looks great. So right around now, in Q one, call it between like January 15 and the end of the quarter, you could slot a fundraise in there. So my goal is to make sure that we go to market in one of those two time frames from a position of strength. So I want a little bit of wiggle room. I don't want to just say, hey, whenever we have three months of money left in the bank, that's when we go fundraising. I would like to avoid that and try to go more on our own terms, but it starts to lead back into a good amount of pressure on monthly goals. I think this might be one of the really big differences between the bootstrapped and the funded route where, sure, you want to grow and maybe you set metrics and you set targets when you're bootstrapped and there's no one looking at those targets besides you and your team. But it does feel different when those targets are talked about openly at the board level and then are identified as what you need to hit in order to fundraise successfully. And very often, the people on your board are directly the people that you're going to be pitching also. So you're performing in public for the people on the board that are making investment decisions at the same time. I think that level of pressure around metrics and performance on a monthly and quarterly basis is very different. At Carthook, I just looked at it as is the company healthy? Are we going in the right direction? Is cash good? Is profitability good? It was just these health metrics, more so than the growth metrics. [00:33:32] Speaker A: When it comes to hitting these aggressive monthly growth metrics, I feel like there are two big ingredients that either one or both of them have to be there. One is there's just kind of so much demand that marketing and distribution is easy, or you just have a huge marketing and distribution advantage. How do you think about that? Is there demand that gives you the headwinds to meet, but you also have this firepower to go sort of on the demand generation side. How do you kind of make that formula work? Because obviously that's what I've always struggled with, and that's why I end up kind of reverting back to my bootstrapping roots. There is demand and people, literally, while we're recording here, somebody just signed up and paid for clarity, flow. And so it's like somebody almost every day finds it and converts, but it's just like the quantity and the flow is not. It's a matter of time, and we need more of that time for more of those people to find it and convert. [00:34:55] Speaker B: Yes. Or you have to spend to create and waste some on the way, and. [00:35:04] Speaker A: Often not, in my case, whatever. People might listen to this and think whatever you want to think. But I feel like I have spent a lot dollars and time, and we have campaigns running and they generally work, but again, they work one, two, or three conversions a day, not 20 a day. [00:35:25] Speaker B: Right. It's a matter of time. I think most companies, ours included, are not in a position where everything's easy and there's a ton of demand and everything's working, and you're hitting these aggressive metrics because of that. I think for the most part, it's a very small percentage of companies that have that, and they're trying to manage that. That's a different form of challenge. But I think most companies, bootstrap funded, whatever else is a grind of a number of different things, and trying to figure out what works best. And every month and every quarter is uncertain for us today, the call we had today that looks like a deal that is pretty likely to close, that was an outbound email sent maybe two months ago. And what that means to us is, okay, that's not the first time that's happened, and it's working, so let's stick with it and we do more of it doesn't make things easy. It just means, okay, we have something, some breadcrumb to follow that this thing works, and let's keep dialing it in, changing the message and increase this and change the data source and whatever else, but that's not enough. So I see my role as responsible for two elements of demand at the same time. One, to grind, to go out and hire sdrs and hire AES and buy the data sources and the software to get people to be able to reach out and then do the partnership thing and then have a biz dev person that's reaching out to agencies and reaching out to platforms. And that feels like the grind. That is what has to be done on a weekly basis to claw toward progress. And then at the same time, what can you do that compounds the efforts that makes the one X effort equal two X impact. And on that front, it is. What does the messaging say on the ads? Don't just give me this generic, hey, you need a better checkout. How do we look at that and challenge ourselves to be more hard hitting on the messaging and the positioning, right? That's like where the your checkout sucks, but it's not your fault type of a message. And right now we have an x factor. I didn't really mean to talk about this on this podcast, but why not? We're going to get into it this month. Anyway, what we found a few weeks ago, we had a bit of a product breakthrough. And what that meant is that we have figured out a way to offer the marketing features of our product without the adoption of the entire checkout platform. So we have people that we talk to and there's a direct relationship with the size of the merchant. The bigger the merchant, the more complex. What that often means is they are interested in what we're doing, but they have difficulty adopting the entire checkout platform. [00:38:50] Speaker A: And replacing their checkout, like getting their whole tech team on board and all. [00:38:54] Speaker B: That, and finance and payments and fraud and the business side and tech and everything else. It's a big hurdle to get over. They're still interested in our marketing features, specifically our order bumps, which are the offers that show themselves on the checkout page and the post purchase offers, which are the offers that show up after the shopper clicks the buy button. So we have figured out a way to separate those two from one another. Not those two, the marketing features from the checkout page. And so what we have now is the ability to sell just the marketing features while the merchant can keep using their existing checkout page. [00:39:35] Speaker A: I love it. [00:39:36] Speaker B: That was not the original vision of the company. The original vision of the company is outsource your checkout to us. Here's why. And the merchant today, on that sales call that I'm talking to, they came to us and said, we wish we could go to Shopify. We sell into a category that is banned from Shopify and we can't go there. And we hate our checkout on Magento. And we saw yours and it looks just like Shopify's. And that's what we want. Just tell us how much. Cool. Other times we talk to merchants, oftentimes the bigger merchants, if you're doing $500 million a year to switch your checkout is massive. So we want to be able, and we now have figured out how to tell that merchant. Here are the marketing features that will increase your revenue. You don't need to change anything. It'll just work with your existing checkout, your existing payments, your existing fraud, tracking, whatever else. And then the thinking is, that's a much easier sell and a much easier onboard. And then it also creates that land and expand. That's right. It creates a pool for potential upselling over the next 612, 18 months. [00:40:46] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:40:46] Speaker B: So that's the type of thing that falls into the second bucket. It's not the grind of every week, it's the rock. How do we do it, Jess? How can we figure it out? Why isn't this working? What can we do? Let's think differently. And then there's like a breakthrough. And now how do we bring that to the go to market team with the assets that they need? A landing page, a video and a pdf to go out and get five beta customers, get results and then expand from there. [00:41:14] Speaker A: I love that because that's literally like responding to what you and your team are hearing from prospects. It's like, this is what brought us here. This is what we actually want to implement and then doing. And then. Yeah, that land and expand, man. [00:41:31] Speaker B: Yeah. Look, it is a compromise from the original vision, but who cares? [00:41:36] Speaker A: I feel like almost every business needs to pivot in some way to. It's not even a pivot is the wrong word, but like, dial in the thing that's going to result in more conversions. That was the whole zip message to clarity flow thing, especially the clarity flow commerce thing, which is like every customer is asking, well, how do I connect this to my payments? Or can I do payments through here? It was, no, not yet. And now it's like, now you can. [00:42:03] Speaker B: Yes. So it's in the realm of pivot. It's not pivot. It's adjustment or feedback or whatever you. This learning cycle, I had such an interesting experience with it. I have a VC who led our seed round and we have a great relationship. And they're a seed fund, so they might throw in a few bucks, but they're kind of not relevant moving forward into the lifecycle of our investment stages. Right. They're not going to lead the round like they're a seed fund. That's their focus. And because of that, it allows he and I to have these very open conversations because I'm not dancing. Right. And he's also from Israel, so we connect. And we've talked a lot since October 7, so we're in a good place in terms of like, trust and communication. And I was having a bit of a down day some point in December when we talked and he said, how are you? You don't seem great. We explained everything and at the end of the conversation, what he said was, look, what I can tell you sitting where I'm sitting, right where you are with about the Runway that you have left and about the revenue and all this stuff right now is when I see companies come up with their next idea that turns into the actual thing. And at that point, we didn't have this. We didn't have the breakthrough yet. So I was like, sounds cool. And then, I swear to you, the next day. Next day. [00:43:35] Speaker A: Isn't that incredible? It's like some trigger opens some door just to start to. It doesn't give you the idea right away. It just opens a door that something new can enter into slightly different point of view. [00:43:53] Speaker B: The irony? Not the irony, whatever. We have thought about this for months because we get the feedback from merchants, and then we would go to tech and product and we'd say, can we do this? And they would come back to us and say, look, that's like a different product. It takes months to build. That's too risky, given where we are. And so, no, we can't do it. And then it took my being slightly more open to it. And really what triggered it was one of our salespeople went off and spoke to one of their existing contacts from a big merchant, and they said, hey, they love it. They want to do it. They're ready to try. But is there any way you could separate this out? Because going the whole way right now is like a big thing for them. If you could just do this, they can get started right away. [00:44:41] Speaker A: And I brought the dots connect. [00:44:43] Speaker B: Yes. And I brought that back to rock. And for whatever reason, rock was thinking slightly differently on it and said, oh, what if we tried x? And it ended up working? And so that happened mid December, and I kind of freaked out, but I didn't want to tell the whole team until we were really sure. So it was just rock and I being like, is this real? Can we do it? What things do we need to test out? Who do we need to get involved? How much is there to do? [00:45:12] Speaker A: I love this whole this gets into, like, a deeper mental game sort of thing. But I've been really reflecting on this. It started to be just my 2023 recap blog post. It turned into, like, a couple of reflection posts. And one of them, it's just this idea of something triggering your mind to open up to thinking about things differently. That's what leads to a new direction, a new idea that you were not necessarily close to before, but you were just not in the mindset to come into that concept before. Back in around October or so, is when I really started to analyze the Runway on clarity flow and assess all the options, from raising more money to selling the business, which I'm not doing, to making sure that we're doing everything that we can on growth, like, to finally landing on the concept of like, look, this thing just needs more time to slowly grow and I need to find a way to put it on a side business that can keep growing and give it what it needs to go long and slow. And that was like the triggering event for, like, all right, but what does that mean for me? What do I do now? And then it started to open my mind to the idea of, well, I think I need to start something new because before that point in October, I had not been thinking about doing YouTube every day or course businesses or newsletter or creator businesses. But I started to open my mind to what is the most efficient way to getting back on a sustainable path. And so it's like one triggering realization leads to a couple of weeks of opening up the mind and then being open to new ideas. [00:47:18] Speaker B: Yeah. When people say talk to customers, I think a lot of the magic around talking to customers is because that's a hack toward finding new insights. [00:47:32] Speaker A: Yes. This exact same thing happened with going from zip message to clarity flow. I talked to a ton of customers and then that led to, okay, coaches is the thing is the target customer. But then even that, I was still closed off to the idea of changing the name. It took a couple more months of I got some advice from people suggesting that I changed the name. I was still resistant to it, but, yeah, you just hear comments from customers and how customers are interacting with it, and then it's like, well, what if? And then it starts to make total sense. Yeah. [00:48:15] Speaker B: And then you kicked yourself a little bit, but it's important that you got there regardless. I got pretty lucky on the timing because we just started this website refresh. [00:48:27] Speaker A: I wanted to hear more about that. Where are you at with the website? [00:48:35] Speaker B: It's a challenge. I don't do this often. I don't have that same muscle as you do in terms of, like, I'll write a home page and it'll be annoying and it'll take me two days. It takes me longer. So it's been a challenge overall, but a, it has to get done, b, people are waiting on it. So those two things combined make me do my best work, the challenge, and I've been struggling looking for examples to look to. [00:49:02] Speaker A: I find that hard, too. Getting inspiration like other sites to look at. [00:49:07] Speaker B: Yeah, I don't have a big roll. [00:49:09] Speaker A: Of decks of whenever I want to do it. I wish that I had been collecting them for the past year and I haven't. [00:49:15] Speaker B: Yes. So now I have multiple windows on my machine. And so one of them is like a chrome window with like 40 tabs open of like I like this home page, I like this pricing page, I like this feature section. Exactly. So right now my challenge is how do you present an offer that shows that people have an option? They can use our checkout platform as a whole or they can use our marketing features with their existing checkout page. Right. And you've done this stuff before. So you know, that's kind of a tricky challenge. It is, because you're stepping on your own foot, you're diluting your message, you're saying, here's this amazing thing, but you don't have to use the whole thing, but you have an option. But this is a suite or a full solution or this. So I'm looking for examples around that and we're trying to come up with a visual way of representing like this particular feature is for the checkout platform. This feature works on the platform or on your checkout, like on the pricing page. It's easy. I feel like one plan is like on your checkout and the other one is on ours, but the other pages are trickier. [00:50:37] Speaker A: I've dealt with this a little bit before and I've seen it done a bunch of ways and I think where I end up coming to is that visitors to the website are going to find their own path to what they need and it's going to look different from one visitor to the next. In your case, you got the marketing tools and the platform features or whatever terminology you use. There can be like two different ways to communicate that and I think probably both should work on the website. So one way would be like solutions, do you want our marketing solutions or the full checkout solution? So somebody might be more feature focused. So they're going to open up the solutions, drop down and navigate to the solutions page for each of those. Or the other way to do it would be users. Who are you? Hey, I'm a big enterprise or marketing. I'm buying for a big enterprise organization. So rally for enterprise and then a page for rally for marketers. And that's showing the marketing tools. And those are like dedicated pages that speak to somebody's clicking around and you want every click that they choose to click on to be like, okay, I'm getting closer, I'm getting closer to what I want and those are like two different paths, but they both lead to the same endpoint. [00:52:04] Speaker B: Yes, we do have that advantage where the endpoint is a communication with us. [00:52:10] Speaker A: Yeah, and that's the other thing. Even once you get to the pricing page and the sign up, you don't have to make them make any decisions right there. All you need is them to get the demo. [00:52:24] Speaker B: That's right. You really just need to communicate that you do have the option of getting this without switching your checkout. And that's enough to get in touch where. Yeah, when people reach out to us, they usually reference something from the site or from some form of information that they got and they say, I'm interested in that, or I read that and I want to know more. Or, I heard that you can do x. Yeah, I'm trying to become a bit less precious on it because it shouldn't take as long as I know it. [00:52:57] Speaker A: And I think this takes more time of gauging the rollout of these marketing tools for you to see how they resonate. But it sounds super promising to me. So I could sort of see a world where you start to really lean into the marketing tools as like, that's the thing, it's a wedge. And if that is truly the thing that sells and you could still have the expansion strategy for after they're in, they can expand to the full thing. But then it's like, okay, we can really gear the home page, rally.com, rally on to the marketing tools like lead with that. And then there's more once you go deeper, but lead with that. [00:53:44] Speaker B: I feel lucky that I'm in the middle of it right now. And by the end of this month, we'll have the new site up and running and it'll be accurate as opposed to coming up with this and then having to restart everything. [00:53:55] Speaker A: It's also, again, kind of finding ways to open your mind, open those doors. It's worth just write a home page as if you're only selling the marketing tools. It might seem too extreme, but just write it just to get it out and then maybe backtrack a little bit. But it's a good exercise to just say, what if this thing looked like this? Just go through that and then maybe do a different version. [00:54:22] Speaker B: Yeah. It is a bit paralyzing to try to be like, how do you do everything at once? The biggest challenge we've had and the challenge I'm putting to individual people on the team, some of the people on the team are just finding out about this week because when we looked into it, it was the middle of December and people were starting to head out. [00:54:41] Speaker A: I struggled and I didn't want to confuse them doing all this work up front to strategize and make all these decisions, and then I haven't told any of my team about this, and then I just drop it on them. [00:54:54] Speaker B: Yes, some of it feels a bit crazy and trying to. Look, we. Okay, here's an example of an assumption that we need to challenge. One of our assumptions is that the bigger the merchant, the more complicated the sale. And when we think about a 500 million dollar a year merchant, we look at that as very attractive for the checkout product, but also very high risk because onboarding is a three month endeavor and negotiations and getting the deal done is like a six to twelve month thing that might not be true at all with this version of the sales process where a 500 million dollar year merchant is still the same, like one day onboarding as a $20 million year merchant. And so while we assumed, hey, we don't want to exclusively go after big merchants because that's too risky, that assumption might no longer hold. So the people who have been around the longest are actually in the most danger of making the wrong assumptions. Yeah, so we'll see. We'll probably aim to get a few beta merchants on board as soon as possible before we make any big crazy changes in our approach and our messaging and all that. [00:56:10] Speaker A: Good stuff, man. I'm psyched for you. [00:56:12] Speaker B: Yeah. Do you see something similar in your world in terms of like an entry point, like the first product to interact with. [00:56:23] Speaker A: With clarity flow? I do have multiple entry points. I think in terms of what they resonate with first. We are selling it as one big product and you just choose which plan you want, which includes most of them. Go to that middle plan, which basically gives you everything. The upper plan is just a little bit more unlimited. But I think we have shifted from people coming just for async communication. That's what it was sort of earlier in the year and in the zip message days. And now people are like, they do need the async communication, but they are coming a lot for courses. Like, they have courses that they need to deploy. They have coaching groups. Usually they refer to them as cohorts. So that's been a really popular feature so far, is like coaches who coach groups, and those groups receive a combination of self serve course like content and personalized coaching, but organized in these self contained cohort private groups with like 1020 members in them each. They're already doing that sort of thing on other platforms, but those other platforms really lack the communication stuff that we give with video, Async, mobile app, like all that kind of stuff. They're trying to put that puzzle together and that's what leads them to us or resonates when we send them a cold email or something like that. But then after they're like, oh, that's cool. That checks all my boxes there. The next logical question that they need to get over is like, but how do I take the money? How do I sell? And that's where Commerce comes in. I really believe that that was a blocker for not all of them. We had customers before we launched commerce, but it was a blocker for them to actually look hard at canceling the other platform that they're paying for where they take money, you know, and doing that instead with us. So that's why I'm really excited about q one here for clarity flow is we really check all the boxes that they actually need. It's still that challenge of like, just because we shipped it does not mean it's done. We do get people churning still where it's like it checks those boxes. But there was some friction here or it didn't work the way I expected over there, and I was just missing this little thing over here. Now it's like a long list of small improvements game, but the big meat and potatoes, they're all there now. [00:59:33] Speaker B: Well, we've been watching you work on it, so congrats on getting it launched. [00:59:38] Speaker A: Feels good. Feels good. [00:59:40] Speaker B: Yeah. Let's have a good start to the year. [00:59:43] Speaker A: Yes, sir. All right, folks. Later, folks.

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