Andres Glusman helped get Meetup.com’s first customer and first $14 of revenue. Meetup later sold for $200 million. Now Andres is the cofounder and CEO of Do What Works. His experience spans across decades, from the birth of the internet in the 1990s to modern day startups. This episode is packed with extremely valuable practical advice for founders and entrepreneurs based on what works.
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This transcript was generated automatically, please forgive misspelling or awkward phrases. The robots are doing their best.
Paris Vega (00:00.886)
Welcome to the first customer’s podcast. Today we have Andres Glusman. He helped launch meetup.com and made their first $14 of revenue. And then they went on to sell for $200 million. Now he’s the co-founder and CEO of Do What Works. Andres, welcome to the show.
Hey, pleasure to be here. I love what you guys are talking about.
Paris Vega (00:22.914)
Thank you for making time for us. Really looking forward to hearing the tactics you went through, the strategies and tactics you used to get those first $14 for Meetup. But let’s start maybe before that and just take us back to whatever business you were involved with when you got your very first experience getting customers for a business.
Yeah. So, I was a part of the early part, like I was part of wave 1.0 of the internet, right? The commercialization of the internet involved in some of the very first different commercial properties and helping the Disney store online, get customers, et cetera, et cetera. And yeah, it was really fun. It was with a company called iTraffic. The internet then took off and boomed. I had enough money at that time. I was living in New York city and I had enough, it was paying me enough to eat like one meal a day.
Paris Vega (01:02.679)
It was like so early. I called that meal, I called it meal by the way, because it was late 90s. Exactly. And it was, it was then the internet took off and then there was this massive, like really interesting time. And I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I’d always wanted to start something. And so I got hooked up with these two people who had this like interesting technology that I could get my hands on. And I feel, I was feeling like really arrogant because I had some good success like with most of my early stuff I had done with the internet.
Paris Vega (01:17.358)
So that’s the 90s, late 90s. Wow.
with online marketing in particular. And so we joined them and proceeded to kind of go through a year and a half of burning through $6 million of like money without having anything to show for it at the end of the day. And it was there that I learned like all of the lessons that kind of went on to define all of the things that have gone a lot better for me since for sure. But the things that I learned in that venture, which was kind of…
So interesting was at the time I was like, you know what? I gotta, it was, we had to be stealth. That was sort of what was like instilled in us. And there were way more experienced in business than I was. And so I was really looking for their like guidance and stuff, but it was really important to them to have like stealth. And so it’s like, you can’t talk to anybody with an NDA. You can’t tell your girlfriend even what you do. You can’t talk to your family members about what you do. And so we didn’t. And so it was like very hush hush and only talking to very selective people.
about what we do and also only hiring like very, very polished people who had like experience running major divisions of corporations. So like we hired a head of marketing and she was awesome. And she had experience running billion dollar campaigns for a major telecom company. And we hired a CEO for this company who had experience running major divisions of like major conglomerates. But.
All that we ended up producing were PowerPoints and like nothing ever got to market. And the reason for that is because we were also, it was so like hush, hush, and so careful to like not actually like have any secrets revealed that we actually never got feedback on anything. And so it was kind of what is like in that experience, we basically just went through it and I learned some technical skills and I learned how to do some financial modeling and stuff, but more than anything, I learned everything that I was determined never to do again.
in the following ventures. And so when I had the opportunity to get involved with Meetup, soon thereafter, the CEO was somebody I’d worked with in the early days of the internet. He was the guy I worked for when I was in New York City. And then one of my first jobs out of college, during the meal days, as I call it, right. He basically had just launched, he’s getting Meetup off the ground. And I was about to go back to business school.
And he said, Hey, well, can you consult to us before you go back to business school? And I’d said, sure. I’m not doing anything. I’ll be happy to. So he basically had this challenge of saying, how do we get our first paying customers? So meetup at the time was just getting off the ground and it was this really, really cool idea, which was this way of getting people who met on the internet, off the internet into like local coffee shops and different spots. And the way that it worked is those sort of the ability to funnel people into different restaurants.
And the hunt, the hunch that we had the hypothesis was that you could get a restaurant to pay you for the right to get that foot traffic in their door and getting people to like go be at their shop holding a meeting. And so what I did is I got a list of the first, uh, places where meetups were going to happen. And I just got a list of them. I looked them up on the yellow pages and figured out the phone number to get ahold of them.
Paris Vega (04:42.146)
And I started calling them and I basically would call them. I called it the first one on that list. It was a guy named Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington, DC. It’s actually, it turns out to be pretty famous, but I had no idea. I’d never heard of this thing before. So Ben’s Chili Bowl, I called them up and I said, Hey, just, uh, my name’s Andre, so I’m calling for meetup. We’re sending you 14 people, uh, next Tuesday. And if you’d like, uh, we can send you 14 people every Tuesday from now on, or more people you just have to give us. Uh, and they said, sure. How much that costs? I said a dollar per person. Just making it up.
And, uh, and he’s like, yeah, that sounds good. And so they gave us 14 bucks and we started sending them people. And so I hung up the phone. I was like, Oh my God, this is amazing. This is the best thing ever. We’ve just hit a gold mine. So I called up the CEO of, of, of meetup and I was like, Hey, you’re never going to leave this, this is working so great. And he’s like, great, cool. Keep hitting the list. So I’ll go down to the next person on the list and I gave him the exact same pitch and it went like terribly, terribly.
Paris Vega (05:48.109)
And so what I realized though in that call, and I’m not a salesperson by training, by any shape or form, but what I realized is I said, I said half of the other calls like, all right, I’m not selling you on anything and I won’t take your money if you try and give it to me. But was there anything about what I just said that was interesting to you? And he’s like, well, getting people in the door is cool, but you’re sending me people on a Friday night. I got a line out the door on a Friday night. I don’t need more people on Fridays.
I need people on Wednesday afternoons. I need people on Monday nights. I need people on these times when I’m slow. And so I was like, oh, that’s amazing. And so I, you know, have call after call, a call like, like this, the next 30 calls. I heard no, no, no, no, no. But every single time I’d ask them like, did you hear anything at all? That was interesting. Slowly. I started honing in on this formula that’s actually resonated. And by basically approaching every call as a sales call, not as a research call.
Paris Vega (06:21.378)
That’s a good insight.
And then taking every no and turning it into a research call gave me this feedback very rapidly so I could hone in very quickly on what was actually cool. And with that, I was able to create a formula that was a repeatable sales formula that we could then hand off. And that was enough to prove out the first business model. And we raised money at the time. This is 2002, by the way, when you couldn’t get anybody, like nobody was funding any internet companies at the time.
Paris Vega (06:52.972)
Paris Vega (07:09.806)
Because yeah, 2001 was the crash, right?
2001 was a crash and then 2002, it was just dry. You couldn’t get anybody. And here was an internet company with a proven business model, or at least a formula for how to make money. And that was good enough for the company to raise money on. And that kind of set it on its way. And so it was one of those like contrasts that was my previous experience at that startup, where we had basically refused to talk to anybody or get feedback on anyone that wasn’t like in an official, very market research oriented way.
Paris Vega (07:14.978)
Paris Vega (07:25.110)
that this like very scrappy, like just very direct and like hear it from the horse’s mouth about what’s interesting and what’s not, not interesting in the context of like actually selling them something fundamentally, like I was able to hone in on an answer that, you know, it took me a year and a half to not get that kind of answer the year before working on the year before. And so that’s sort of this like lesson that stuck with me. It’s very much been a formula that I’ve just repeated over and over again. On whatever I’m working on. And so, you know, uh, when we launched, um,
Paris Vega (08:01.782)
Yeah, that’s huge.
launched my new thing. When we launched Do What Works, it originally started as a toy. So my partner and I, we both left Meetup. Meetup got acquired, as you mentioned, right? We had a little bit of money as a result of that. And so we were able to take some time off and go play with ideas and look for the new thing. And so my partner and I, who is a great engineer who had worked with for over a decade at Meetup, we were both playing around with ideas and we would get together once a week. And I sort of…
hit on this idea about this thing, which is like, what if, if we did X, Y, and Z, could we figure out what everyone is experimenting with online? Could I figure out what anybody’s growth experiments are online? And I talked to my partner about it and he’s like, yeah, I think I can build that. And so he actually built it, but built it in an even much better way than I had suggested. And we had this very rudimentary technology. And what I did is I took it to people I knew in the industry. I took it to product and marketing people.
And I basically showed them like these very rough prototypes. Like, look, here’s an experiment that I’m seeing that Netflix is running. That I was able to detect with my technology. Do you want me to detect what your competitors are running? Would you pay me? And they’re like, that’s really, really cool. And I said, would you pay me to do that? Like if I built this, would you pay me? And they’re like, yeah, how much are you charging? And so I threw out like a really low number, like, you know, some, some small amount of money, like a hundred dollars a month or $200 a month. Uh, and they said, yeah, we would totally pay you for that. That’s great.
Paris Vega (09:24.439)
And so what we built, what we sent them was a strike form. So the only thing that existed on do what works.io on the internet was a payment page. And we sent these three people that had said yes to us payment paid like these forms, and when they ultimately like put their credit cards in and agreed to like go ahead and sign up and pay that was proof to me that this was the idea that we needed to pursue until we had, we had offered them.
Paris Vega (10:03.266)
In exchange for their money, we basically said we’re, we’re going to, we’ll send you a PDF. Like, like, we’ll send you just a report. Uh, if you agree to pay us for this. Uh, and we actually never ended up delivering that PDF because we just built the dashboard instead. Right. So we went ahead and built the dashboard, a very simple one. Now the old me, right. The me from like the early two thousands, whereas you got to build everything first.
Paris Vega (10:19.575)
Paris Vega (10:22.462)
Paris Vega (10:31.429)
You’re on the opposite end of the spectrum.
I would have probably said, no, what we need to do is build out this full feature dashboard. And then we got to go sell it to people. And then we got it. And then when they say, yes, we can, we have the whole thing to deliver. But instead we did it in the complete opposite order. We sold it first, we pre sold it, we proved that there was demand, we proved that there was something interesting. And then instead of building this dashboard out of imagination, we actually built it specifically for them. So we knew exactly who we were building for.
We talked to them about what they were trying to achieve. We gave it to them. We got their feedback on it and we very quickly iterated on it month in, month out. And so it’s one of those things we realized, which is like the less we’re imagining things, the less we’re just making stuff up and guessing what people want. And instead of kind of working backwards from having somebody that’s literally paying you some money to do something, then you’re onto something. And that’s probably like…
Paris Vega (11:25.239)
The number one lesson I’ve learned from the kind of two hits and one miss one pretty mega miss, but two pretty good hits so far. I’m pretty happy about the hits too. Uh, was basically like figuring out how to like prove out as quickly as you possibly can what’s true and what, what, what’s a hallucination.
Paris Vega (11:37.291)
Yeah, for sure.
Paris Vega (11:47.110)
Yeah, that’s an incredible lesson. Or just like a very crystal clear, like painting of that lesson, going from one end of the spectrum where you didn’t even tell anybody. And I’d like to go back a little bit into some of these and kind of dig deeper into some of these different moments. So back to the Disney related website. What did you do to get those customers for that project?
Yeah? Yeah, go for it.
Yeah. So there I was a 21 year old kid. I mean, I was just starting my career. And what I did was I joined the world’s first online marketing agency, which was a company called iTraffic. And I was working at Boeing at the time. I took a pay cut. I flew across country. I was making enough money to eat one meal a day. And I just took the entry level job at this place to be able to get my foot in the door. And
Paris Vega (12:42.062)
because you felt like what internet was the future and that kind of thing.
Oh, I just got this vision for the internet and where I was going to go. And I was so excited about it from just having used very early versions of it right as I was starting to get commercialized. And this company was doing something really wild, which was it kind of rethought the idea of, of advertising and said, advertising is just, nobody likes an ad, but people want to find links on the internet. And so the philosophy was instead of trying to place ads.
What if you could figure out how to inject links from your clients into the right spots on the internet? And you could do that. Then you would drive traffic to these people’s websites and then they would make it customers. So that was the big idea, um, around eye traffic and kind of what the philosophy behind it was. So the idea was like, look, look, and they’re very early days of the internet. The, um, there was no such thing as a standard, like these things that we see right now, like, um,
Paris Vega (13:31.234)
So where would you be injecting links?
Paris Vega (13:36.609)
banners on media properties. There was no such thing as a standard for what actually like a banner was or wasn’t. That was kind of invented around the commercial internet. And so the idea there is if you wanted to get people to come to your site, you needed to figure out how to get links put into them. So it was like this idea about like being very thoughtful about the overall system and figuring out how to find websites that would be relevant to the customer that you have and trying to get them to insert links and then pay them for it. That was
Paris Vega (13:43.915)
Paris Vega (14:09.126)
Okay, kind of a SEO play, almost.
Yeah, but like there was no such thing as Google. And at the time though, what we really had was Yahoo and Lycos and these like search engines. I’m going down like the stone ages of the internet here. Yeah, basically like the very, very first search engines that existed, they were called portals at the time. And there’s kind of Lycos, InfoSeek, AltaVista.
Paris Vega (14:22.602)
Yeah, that’s free search engine internet.
Paris Vega (14:31.806)
Yeah, that’s right. They’re just walls of links.
Yeah. And then what ended up happening is that these things blew up and then VCs started pouring a lot of money into companies. And so they started pouring that money into portals. And the birth of like banners came up, et cetera, et cetera. Anyhow, I was really excited about like this idea about like how you could put links on the internet and fundamentally shape people’s experiences of what the internet would end up being. I’m like kind of weirdly like nerdy in that way. And so it was just like really fast ended by like the overall system.
I took this pay cut. I flew across country, I showed them my three-piece suit. They had no idea what to make of me. But I was just so interested in it that I was doing just the most basic data entry job during the day. And then at night, I was doing the job I wanted to do. So I started doing this additional work on top of it and ended up building a new division of the company, building a new product line inside this company related to a different way of doing advertising.
which now is called affiliate marketing, but at the time it was a brand new idea. And so very early on saw that the ads that we were running on behalf of the clients that we had in like our clients, I was on the Disney store account, which is how I got to see the data very early on. And so they were spending money on Yahoo, on Lycos, on whatever, and we were putting banners up on the internet and the banners sometimes had
a Winnie the Pooh on them and sometimes they didn’t. And when we had a Winnie the Pooh on them, those performed better and we were able to see, oh my goodness, it was like a split test, it’s an A-B test. And the ones that had the Winnie the Pooh, we could acquire customers at like half the costs of the other ones. And so what we were constantly trying to do is figure out how to run tests and optimize the messaging or the campaigns to get more results from this money we were spending on.
Paris Vega (16:27.318)
And so where was the money being spent? Was it like a per click thing or you just, the fee of having it on the website?
It was a little bit of everything because it was a little bit of the Wild West, but what it was gravitating towards was cost per thousand, CPM. Right. And so it’s more than anything. It’s just like we were paying that money no matter what. And it was a little bit of a land grab. And so people were spending money irrationally. In fact, despite the fact that we improved the results by 50%, it was still 100% too much. I think it was
$150 to spend to sell a $40 plush doll. So that wasn’t sustainable. And so I saw that very, very, very early on. And so then I said, well, we need to flip this model around and ended up creating a new product line inside of the company where we flipped it and we were only selling on performance-based links. So we basically created like some of the world’s first like affiliate marketing programs there to then…
Paris Vega (17:24.578)
Like reverse the model, we were only paying on performance and then it got much more efficient, but it’s much harder to do it scale. And so then we had to solve that problem. So anyways, I did that at night while I was doing my, my really boring, like data entry job during the day. And I.
Paris Vega (17:32.685)
Paris Vega (17:41.934)
Was anybody else doing that at the time that you knew of? Was anybody else doing that?
What’s that? Well, I mean, the big, the big fish was Amazon had their, their, their associates program, and so that’s who we looked at as a model for how to do it. But then the question came in, we figured out how to replicate that and do that at scale for all of our clients. And so I built a division that sold that service to our clients. And that got me promoted a few times over the course of a year, which the funny part of this whole thing is that the person who promoted me was the CEO of, of iTraffic.
Paris Vega (17:54.254)
Man, they’ve been around forever.
Paris Vega (17:59.415)
who was the guy who went on to start Meetup. And so that’s why I was invited to be a part of Meetup in the very earliest days, because I had basically just like worked so dang hard and had some pretty good success at iTraffic, that that’s what got my foot in the door and got me in a position to then like become a leader at Meetup over the years.
Paris Vega (18:17.031)
Paris Vega (18:34.894)
crazy how long Amazon’s been around. You forget that they’ve just been there since the early days. It’s like 95 or something like that.
I mean, yeah, I think so. Yeah. There, I mean, and the innovation and the level of innovation and just the, they think in first principles and so they boil it all down to like the most fundamental ideas and there’s a lot that they do that I really, really admire. I mean, you could create a whole show where you’re just quoting Jeff Bezos and it would probably like fill up a whole hour.
Paris Vega (18:59.618)
Paris Vega (19:02.446)
for sure. I think it’s really interesting that the principles that you’ve kind of landed on have shown up several times in other episodes of the podcast where some of the, you know, fastest growing or the best businesses seem to start with a lot of initial conversations with target customers or just a lot of that kind of exploration and getting feedback as early as possible. That tied with building
like trust and relationships in a given industry seems to be that kind of dual, that con that winning combo for any business. Like the more you get feedback on your idea, because there was another person, I think it was episode four, they were saying they would go to these like networking events or these conferences and they would just talk about the idea they had about starting a business. And they got their first customer from just talking about the idea. Like, what if this existed? Kind of like you were saying you were doing a pre-sale based on just an idea.
And then they kind of confirmed it by paying for it. Um, so that’s definitely something to take away.
right. The biggest deal in there, of course, though, and it’s kind of the thing that is probably most important to folks who are thinking about getting feedback is getting people to put their money where their mouth is. And so if they’ve got some skin in the game, you should listen to them much more so than others. In fact, when we were launching Do What Works very early on, they’re like, oh, well, are you just giving this away for free? And I’d say like free trial, can I get a free trial? Can I do this for free?
Paris Vega (20:13.759)
And I said, well, we really want to hear from people who want to pay us because we don’t want to get feedback from the folks who are never going to want to pay us. And so we really focused very deliberately on making sure that we were listening to the people who paid you. So that we were going to follow their advice, because it’s very easy. Like there are more opinions than there are people in any given city, right? When it comes to anything you might want to build and say, you got to figure out who you want to listen to. And so using the, like the fact that people
who are willing to pay you are the ones that will really point you in the right direction is probably one of the most important things to also keep.
Paris Vega (21:08.462)
That’s good. Okay. I’d like to learn more about the one that failed. Because that was, you had the Disney, eye traffic job, and then from there is when you went into the one and a half years, spent six and a half million. Talk more about that experience.
Yeah. Into the wilderness. Yeah, it was. So I mean, it was 1999. The internet was booming. Everyone was going to be rich, right? It was one of those things where it’s just like, if you’re not, if you’re not a millionaire by the time you’re 25, you’re a loser. And it’s like, I’m only wanting to work with ideas that are, that are going to be huge. And so I made every mistake I could possibly mistake make in kind of choosing a career path at that point in time.
which is the number one thing I was motivated by was like, how big of an opportunity could this thing be? And then I also was like seduced by this idea that it was like gonna be sexy and it was gonna be really big. So it’s a wave. And so the idea was wireless. Wow, wireless, right? So this is like the wireless in the time of like, before cell phones were like, well, their cell phones were starting to be ubiquitous, but.
Wireless at the time, you couldn’t send a text message. Somebody who had AT&T could not send a text message to somebody who had Verizon.
Paris Vega (22:30.167)
Right. There was no network interoperability. And so there, there’s no such thing as texting in the United States as a result. And the idea behind this venture was that you could create a mechanism, a device and give it away for free. And create a way for people to engage with each other online. I said, engage each other via text message. And so it was the way to solve for text messages. So the underlying idea is like, is text messaging going to be huge? Yes.
Paris Vega (22:33.899)
Paris Vega (22:46.690)
Paris Vega (22:58.487)
Is that the way to do it? Probably, it turns out it wasn’t, but it would have been a great beachhead if it had gotten the ability to get out the door faster and launch. But I was really, really excited about it. But at the end of the day, we were just like, the idea was to make pagers and distribute them in mass, then charge people to send messaging. But I grew up in a family, like my parents were doctors. And so my whole memory of like, of pagers is like…
being constantly stopped from whatever we were doing to go find a payphone so that my parents could call someone. Like, I hate pagers. Nobody likes pagers. So, yeah, I had no personal love for this thing. I was seduced by the big idea. And then I was just also like very like interested in the credentials of the people that I would get to work with. And they were really smart people. But there’s like what I learned over the course of the process is that there’s
Paris Vega (23:32.782)
startup people and there’s a startup skill set. And then there’s a big company skill set. And if you bring big company people in too soon, it’s not gonna work. And that was yet another thing that I learned in there as well, right? And so, so those are all the fundamental, like my heart was in it for the wrong reasons. I was doing the wrong work. I wasn’t learning the right skills from the right kinds of people for the job I wanted to do. And then…
Paris Vega (24:05.878)
Of course, the biggest problem was that we didn’t actually get feedback from customers, except that we did a handful of focus groups. Have you ever been a part of a focus group, Paris?
Paris Vega (24:37.366)
I’ve done like user testing. I’ve been part of those kinds.
We were like gone to like those facilities where there’s like a two way mirror. So we did that. So we were, we were like, okay, we got to fly from New York to, we got to do one in Ohio and one in Atlanta and one in, I don’t know, and so we flew out to these Z驚 facilities sat behind a lot. Like these things cost like $30,000, $40,000 to do a session. And you basically, you do it inside of a laboratory.
Paris Vega (24:42.678)
No, no. Oh wow.
Paris Vega (24:56.694)
How much did it cost?
Paris Vega (25:01.666)
You go to like a building that’s like, that’s feels scientific, but what could be less like comfortable, right? Or less of a, what could be like not like reflective of the real world, more than like a lab where you’re behind a two way mirror and you know you’re being watched. And we did these sessions where we have conversations with people moderated through a professional moderator. And you, so we would have to write out the scripts and write out all the stuff ahead of time and think through what we, all the different permutations of questions we’d want.
Paris Vega (25:16.843)
And then the moderator would give the thing. We’d sit behind the glass and we’d watch. And then we would, you know, get the results from eight people and fly home.
and do that three more times. So that’s like 24 people total. 24? Yeah, 24, am I doing the math right? 24 people. Yeah, that would be that. Yeah, exactly, just spent a ton of money on this stuff. It might’ve been 40K for all three of them, truth be told, but it was still way more money than it should have been. And we learned from 24 people. Like I learned from 24 people in the first week of calling people at Meetup.
Paris Vega (25:58.026)
Paris Vega (26:08.576)
You know, by just putting yourself out there and like all of the error that you would think you’re kind of doing away with when you’re in a professional laboratory environment, you’re just adding a new set of error. And so like when I, um, was a growth leader at meetup and like when I did research in the future, I would actually have people project their screen, like project onto a wall and have the entire team sitting in a room with somebody playing on their laptop.
And just the whole thing being on the wall, but at least they’re being watched, but they know they’re being watched. They can see the people around them. And we’d let the people that were working on the product talk to the end user and ask them questions or observe them in real time. And so while they’re using it, yeah. Cause there’s, there’s this fear about like, Oh, you’re going to, you’re going to sway them or you’re going to ask questions. There’s a way of asking questions that you can do like three YouTube video searches and find like some good techniques.
Paris Vega (27:00.066)
Like while they’re using it, the people who made it are in the room. Yeah.
But the reality is that if you have watched those videos, you can engage with people and talk to them and truly try and understand what they’re trying to do and not project or not try and sell them on the thing at that point. Or if you’re really trying to observe and watch, you can get the feedback in a way that you don’t need to spend all that money having a professional facility do if you’re just doing that in a, if you’re just trying to get like something brand new off the ground, you need to be working fast and working inexpensively.
There’s a reason why the industry exists. Yeah.
Paris Vega (27:46.862)
Would you say there’s no place? I was going to say, would you say there’s really no place for that really expensive version of a focus group, or at least for an early company?
Yeah, for early, early company, probably not. It’s going to sound a little rude, but, but a lot of those, like that part of the industry are like that way of doing research is exists in part to give cover to people who are spending millions or billions of dollars on something and let them be able to say, we did the research and it revealed this thing before we rolled out Coke, new Coke to the entire world.
that these 35 people said they liked it.
Paris Vega (28:29.446)
a checklist on a protocol sheet.
Exactly. And it’s kind of a, you know, a CYA kind of thing for people. And at that level, if you’re spending all that money, then yeah, 40k is a drop in the bucket compared to what it costs to roll out a brand new soda or something of the sort. And there’s different ways of doing it. What I believe though, is that for all of the error that those professional facilities
are intending to do away with, they’re introducing a whole new set of error into the process. And so I don’t actually believe that at the end of the day, you’re learning that much more from being in one of those facilities, as opposed to learning from people in their own native environment and having it in a much more casual environment or in a casual way. Now, if you can afford to have a professional moderator who actually knows how to ask those questions, yeah, that’s better. But…
it’s going to slow you down dramatically. And what an entrepreneur needs is to be able to get the feedback fast and act on it quickly. And so whatever slows you down from doing that, you want to get rid of.
Paris Vega (29:35.662)
What would you say is the fastest way, like the fastest version of like reaching out to customers that entrepreneurs could use?
Yeah, there’s a…
It’s gonna sound trite. It’s just doing it. I mean, it really is. The fastest way, there’s a friend.
Paris Vega (29:52.568)
So like literally picking up the phone, cold calling similar to what you did.
Yeah, Cole calling them at a hundred percent. And that’s what we did when we were getting this new venture off the ground. And, and, um, Cole calling, like there’s a thing my friend, uh, reminded me of. So a good friend of mine, he’s not CEO of, uh, of, uh, of a move length or they’re doing a huge company. They’re doing great. But he was reminding me that back in the early days of, uh, of Shake Shack in New York city, when there was only one Shake Shack, uh, as in Madison square park in like a nice spring day or summer day, there’d be a line that would take like an hour.
to go down. And so what we would do is there’s people waiting in line, they have nothing to do. Like they’re literally just waiting and waiting and waiting. And they were the kind of person for the project I was working on that I wanted to get feedback from. So I went to the people in that line and I’d offered to buy them their burger in exchange for some, in exchange for participating in a study while they waited in line. So they had nowhere else to go. I wasn’t stopping them from doing the thing they wanted to do.
and I was able to get feedback from that user. So the reality is that you can get signal from anyone if you just ask in the right way, you can get signal in so many different ways. Like if you’re thinking about launching a new website, right, and it doesn’t exist yet, and it’s gonna compete with some other thing that does exist that you think is flawed for reasons X, Y, and Z. So let’s name any website, we’ll just pretend that you’re competing with them. Who do you wanna compete with?
Paris Vega (30:56.226)
Paris Vega (31:22.794)
Google.com. All right. So you’re launching something with Google.com and you’ve got this idea around like people hate Google because of X, Y, and Z, cause that’s what you think. Right. Um, the, and mine’s going to be different. Well, you can basically do those. You can watch people use Google.com. Like you can actually sit with them and have them do what they do using that website and validate what you think they don’t like about it is in fact true. Or that if you were to add a Google like feature into this new thing you’re trying
You will have pretty good insight into how people might use it. If you watch them use the thing that already exists, that’s maybe not exactly what you’re doing, but similar. Right. And so you can get feedback from people on just about anything. You can learn from them. If you just like watch them or engage with them and using the thing or something very, very similar, because it doesn’t even have to be the thing you built and that’s like, you can learn a ton of stuff without building anything. You can sell it before you build it. You can.
You have them use other people’s stuff. You can use off the shelf technologies. Like, you know, you can have a form builder using type form, uh, to have the actual form part of it and create a fake signup process. There’s so many different ways of getting this data before you put down a single line of code and that’s good. Cause it’s really expensive to work with great engineers. Um, or.
Paris Vega (32:46.474)
Right. I love that.
Build whatever to build a factory in China. It costs a lot of money. So if you can figure out how to get data beforehand and let you know that it’s a good thing to do, that’s what you want to do.
Paris Vega (32:55.966)
Yeah, that’s awesome. So everybody listening, start calling people, use your competitors to get user feedback before you even build anything. I love that. This is some good scrappy start from zero. You can do it today. Like it removes all excuses, you know, cause you can get stuck in those kinds of cycles of, well, I don’t have this done. I need my logo first before I get my website up, you know, and there’s all these reasons when you’re comparing yourself to what other people have, but.
It’s so true.
You’re 100% right. I took pride in not having a logo up on it from my new company for like the first year and a half, like that logo was not the thing that was going to make a difference. And even right now, I don’t feel wed to my logo because it’s not the thing that creates value for my customers. And so I’m not, I don’t worry too much about it. I’ll worry about it later at a certain point, but you’re 100% right. It doesn’t matter in that regard.
Paris Vega (33:25.718)
You just remove all of it with your story.
Paris Vega (33:51.314)
Awesome. Well, this has been some golden nuggets for anybody getting exposed to this. This is awesome. Why don’t we wrap up by imagining there’s maybe a thousand of your target customers for your current business. What’s that kind of value pitch or reason they should use your service?
Yeah. So we got two products as well. And the one that might be most relevant for your listeners is a new one that are, what do we build? We built our company’s called Do What Works. And what Do What Works does is it is able to identify what works for other folks and help them leverage it to do what works faster. So we work with marketers and product leaders to leverage the things that are working for their competitors or for companies that are like them.
and help them use that in order to improve the conversion rates. We get more customers from the money they’re spending on marketing and or on their website. So we built an engine that detects any experiment that people are running online to acquire customers. And then we have products that they can use, that our customers can use, that then, for example, use the data, use the headlines that your competitors are experimenting with plus AI.
to then write new headlines for you that you can use to optimize your search engine marketing campaigns in minutes every month, based on what’s winning and losing for you and your competitors and AI. So that’s an example of one of the products. And then we have another product that does something very similar, but on your website. So that’s usually for larger companies who have a lot more traffic to their websites. Like we work with six of the top streaming brands, we work with 8B2B SaaS unicorns. Those companies…
Paris Vega (35:33.923)
want to invest a lot of time and money into improving their website conversion. And we have a technology that lets them leverage the experiments that are being run by their competitors or by other people in their space to be able to do that. But for the more earlier stage or mid-market people, the product that might be much more relevant is this new one, this ad copy optimizer. It’s really cool what you can do with AI. So we’re using AI and it’s just writing these headlines and it’s like,
People I’m showing it to people were actually going through this process right now, launching it exactly. Exactly like what I’ve been talking to you about, but just with this brand new thing and we’re showing it to folks and working from the inside out and they’re just kind of amazed by like how easily they can see what works and doesn’t work. And then how quickly they can leverage that to be able to write or optimize their campaigns. So something that used to take hours from them to do, they can now do in minutes. And so they want to not do that, be able to do that every month to get more results.
Paris Vega (36:08.363)
Paris Vega (36:32.226)
So when you get the, I guess you find the insights using AI and the data from the competition. And then do you kind of facilitate the AB testing with your software or is it just, it generates, hey, here’s the best headline we recommend next, go test it and then.
Yeah, for your, uh, yeah, exactly. So for your advertising, when you’re running ads on search engines, right. Like Google, uh, at a certain point you bought all the keywords you’re going to buy. You’re not going to find more keywords. The traffic, it’s not like suddenly more people are typing in whatever search you’re looking for. It’s not like more people are suddenly looking for whatever home pregnancy kit or whatever, right? So there’s only so many people who are typing in those words and I need to get a month on a search. And so the only way to get more results.
from those campaigns at the end of the day is to get more people clicking on those ads and to get a better share. And the way you do that is by writing better copy. And what our engine does is it writes a draft of it for you so that in minutes you can upload a batch of copy into Google and then have Google auto optimize it for you. So Google will always run the experiments on your behalf on their ads, but it’s only gonna be as good as the stuff you put in.
And what our engine does. That’s exactly it.
Paris Vega (37:45.970)
So you put in, you can put in multiple variations and then naturally, yeah, Google’s going to optimize for whatever performs the best. Yeah.
That’s exactly right. So what are, what we’re able to help people do is basically generate the copy that’s going to work the best based on what’s working for you and for your competitors, um, and then using AI is able to write more copy.
Paris Vega (38:08.690)
Yeah, I guess it would be revealing all the secrets, but the big question that comes up is how in the world are you getting all this competitor data?
Yeah, I mean, that’s what we got a patent on it. So that’s the little project I was telling you about that I sort of talked to my partner about over a weekend, that we built the very early versions of. It’s been snowballing and growing, but yeah, that’s essentially what the technology does. So we had a pretty good flash of inspiration a few years ago on that technology that allows us to get the data. But yeah, with that unique data source, we’re just, our goal is to just make it dead simple for people to…
Paris Vega (38:17.725)
Paris Vega (38:21.172)
Paris Vega (38:29.196)
be able to get more results from their Google ads and make it effortless.
Paris Vega (38:48.142)
Wow, I’m gonna have to check that out because we’ve got a lot of agency clients that could take advantage of that for sure.
Oh, please do. I’ll give you a special credit for it. In fact, yeah. Yeah. If you go to a, can I put a plug on? I’ll tell you where to go. Go to do what works.io slash SEM. And you can actually see the brand new product even before it’s officially launched.
Paris Vega (38:56.734)
Well, awesome. Perks.
Paris Vega (39:01.770)
Paris Vega (39:09.742)
All right, that’s a good place to end it. Thank you so much for your time, Andres. Everybody go check it out and sign up for their service. And we’ll see you next episode.
Yeah, very good.