Articles, Blog

Keep Your SaaS Product Competitive with Syed @ – EV Ep. 3

January 16, 2020

What’s up, Syed? How’s it going, man? Hey buddy. Dude, appreciate
you coming on here. Absolutely. I consider you like the Warren
Buffett of SaaS and tech. And those are my words. I don’t think I’ve
ever heard you say it. But dude, you have been
involved in many companies. How many businesses have
you started in the last– what is it– 10-plus years? I mean, you’re not
a very old dude. I thought, when
I first met you– we’ve known each other for
over, I think, a decade now– Yeah. –yeah, but you’ve done a lot. How many companies have
you been involved in? Been over two dozen now. Are you serious? I’m serious, yeah. I know a couple dozen. 2,000 is bananas. No, no, two dozen not 2,000. Oh, OK. Are you crazy? I thought you said 2,000. No, no. I’m like, OK, is that
domains you bought? No, no, no, over two dozen. OK, awesome. Yeah, two dozen companies. And what are some
of those companies that people would know? Well, if you’re in this
crowd, OptinMonster is a pretty big one. WPBeginner– For sure. –if you ever do anything with
WordPress, you know about that. MonsterInsights– it used to
be known as Yoast Analytics. Yep, which is a huge plug-in. Right. So we acquired that. ExactMetrics,
WPForms– if you’re doing anything with form
building in WordPress, you’ve seen that. MemberPress– if you’re doing
anything with membership. For sure. Dude, you’ve got the
whole marketing– Pretty Links and– –on lock. Yeah. Why did you get into tech? I mean, I know we met– for those watching–
dude, it was like 2008. I think it was the guys at
Column Five introduced us. Column Five, right. Yeah, and you were
helping them with some of their high-end clients. Somehow, we got a hold of you. You helped us with our
WordPress deployment. How did tech end
up in your life? Man, my parents moved here–
so a very long story– my parents move to the US. How old were you
when they moved? I was 12 years old. OK. My dad’s mechanical
engineering background degree didn’t validate. Kind of do what all brown people
do here, work at gas stations, right, swiping stuff. I just wanted to make money. And one of my cousins
told me about domaining, and that’s what the
startup tech was for me. Really? Domaining. Domaining. And then did you
learn how to code? Yeah, man. So I didn’t speak English,
by the way, at that time. Wow. I knew the alphabets. I did know the alphabets. I memorized those. So I didn’t speak English. I came here. I was 12 years old. I was supposed to go
into eighth grade. They tested me up, so I
was 12-year-old high school and spending most of
my time in the library, because I didn’t
have any friends. Yeah. I was a total nerd. And I wanted to play games. And the school
blocked everything, because they don’t
want you to play games. So I started looking
at how do you play games around this thing,
this thing called firewall. And yeah, everything kept
coming about proxies, and all the proxies
were blocked. So I decided to learn
how to make one. So admin stuff. Oh, you made your own proxy? I made my own proxy. Oh, wow. So that way you could tunnel
through and play all the games. That’s right. Oh, dude. That’s how I learned. That’s neat. I love that the
mother of necessity was the invention for you. And why the drive– I know that you’re
also in real estate. Dude, what I’ve
always appreciated you is you’re driven, you
built the that YouTube channel I think you exited. What was that called again? List 25. List25. I mean, million-plus
subscribers? It had 2 and 1/2 million
subscribers, over half a billion video views. Yeah, so it’s like
you’re like a Renaissance guy of the internet. You know what I mean? And I just love
it, because we’re at Traffic and
Convergence Summit. You’re hungry. You’re moving forward. I remember talking
to you once, and you mentioned one of your mentors. How did you figure
this stuff out? What do you think are
the big moves that allowed you to get to the point
where you’re buying companies and doing a roll-up
and that kind of stuff? Yeah, man, just
surrounding myself but much smarter people than me. And how long have you
been doing that for? I met my mentor when
I was 14 years old– Oh, wow. –playing cricket,
which most Americans don’t know about the sport. But if you go to
Pakistan, India, any– Australia. Yeah, Australia. Cricket is huge. I was playing cricket
in South Florida. You actually have to
pay to play cricket. Yeah. Really? They don’t have
like cricket fields that you can just go play? No. There are leagues. And then I met the guy who
owned one of the teams. And he said I could
play for free, because I didn’t have any money. But I mean, dude, he
meets a lot of people. This is what I always
find funny is what did you say at 14 that got him to– No, dude. I kid you not. I was just playing
cricket in his team. And he was a really genuine guy. And he would talk to everybody. And I would talk
to everybody too and super respectful,
super polite. And that was his rule– I could play in
the team for free as long as I’m respectful
and don’t curse around and things like that. And he would ask,
well, what are you doing, what are you studying? He took a genuine interest. And I told him, oh,
yeah, I’m studying this, and I’m trying to do
this thing online. And he was like,
oh, this is cool. And then he would start giving
me a little bit of wisdom. And one time, he invited the
entire team over to his house. And I was just mindblown, right? This is not a house. This is a freaking mansion– Huge mansion. It’s a humongous mansion. You can go around in golf carts. There were literally golf carts. You could ride around the
whole property estate. And I was like, whoa. And I started literally taking
interest in what he does. Is that at 14? Yes, that’s when I was 14. So at 14, you visited
this guy’s house. Yes. And I mean, I’ve
been in those moments where your whole belief system
shifts about what’s possible. Absolutely. I saw a brown guy that
can actually do this. Dude, that’s amazing. Right? Nobody my family is
rich, by the way. Most entrepreneurs, that’s
usually not the case. And he was interested, but
obviously, to be on the league, you got to be respectful
and all that stuff. Right. But what did you do to get
him to get to the point where he was
willing to take time to mentor you outside of
just being on a cricket team? Dude, I just love
cricket, and this man loves cricket more than I do. Wow. So we would watch
cricket games that were being played around the world. And he would have these
watch parties at his house, except they were like
stayovers at his house, because the crickets
were being played in other parts of the world. So on the weekends, a bunch
of guys would get together. The whole team or whatever. And I would actually take
interest in what he does, and he does real estate. Nobody else would ask. Nobody else would ask. And I would take interest. Dude, that’s the
part, man it’s like– I just love that, because
those other people on the team were there. Right. I mean, you actually said, hey,
man, how did this come to be? Yeah, and I genuinely
was curious. And I’m like, I love this. And he saw my eyes
would just glow. And everybody watching
the game, and we’re kind of like, that’s
where the couch is. We’re sitting right
on the other side– at 3:00 in the
morning, literally. And he’s just telling me how
he took over a Burger King without paying a dime. No money out of pocket. No money out of pocket, just
take over a Burger King. And I was like, whoa. And I’m just like– my eyes would glow. And, of course, that makes
you feel appreciated. And then he just kept
telling me story after story. And I would say, oh, yeah,
I’m doing this in my business. And he’s like, oh, cool, let
me introduce you to so-and-so. And he would just introduce
me to his other friends who are also fairly wealthy,
successful people, and yeah. At some point, though, you
had to develop a skill set. So how did you end up
in the WordPress space? Man, I was doing a lot of
shady SEO stuff in ’04, ’05. And that was all static content. And I was selling some
of the back links. And Google was coming
hard on static content, and I needed something dynamic. And I discovered
WordPress in ’06. Wow. And then just, all of a sudden,
you stopped the shady stuff? Or you just shifted– No, Google slapped. [CHUCKLES] Google slapped– [INTERPOSING VOICES] I got a Google slap. Hey, I got to get legit. Pretty much, it was one of
the easiest money I ever made. I still say that. And yeah, one day, Google
just flipped a switch, and all vanished. And you had to figure
something new out. I had to figure
something new out. I didn’t know that I was
pretty good at traffic. And I started looking at
all the different sources like the FriendFeeds
of the world. And there were new
platforms coming up like and So I started looking
at WordPress sites. I was pretty technical. I had a team that could build
websites and just starting– And was your team
mostly in the US or– Overseas. OK, overseas. And so the WordPress
stuff started to become– where does List25 come from? How do you evaluate projects? [CHUCKLES] And maybe you have a
different approach today? But I’m just curious. As somebody that sees
opportunity all around, you’ve obviously figured out a
way to go down certain paths, be successful. You said a couple of dozen
companies– some, I’m assuming, didn’t work out. How do you how did you evaluate
opportunities then versus now? I was in college. I went to UF,
University of Florida. And my roommate, who was
three years ahead of me, graduated with a degree
and then got a master’s in international business. And he couldn’t get a job. And we were just
in Czech Republic, and I was talking to him. Man, I wish there was one
site that just told me all about the castles, so I
don’t have to walk all round, just go to the right spot,
because those castles are humongous. Let’s go to that one spot or
to two things or five things to see. So I initially thought, oh,
that would be a cool site to do just for fun. And then that didn’t
work out, of course, because I don’t go
to that many castles. So I never executed on that. [CHUCKLES] But this guy was there. I’m like, dude, since you’re
not able to find a job, why do you just
start the website? I’m seeing these list-style
sites popping up everywhere. And I can help you
if you execute. And I’ll pay you. I’ll pay you an hourly rate. And then– So take the risk out of it. Right. And was he a business
partner with you? Or you just wanted to say– No, no. –hey, here’s a project I
think you should work on. Right. Here’s a project. And I don’t want to just
like give him money. And he’s a really dear friend,
still one of my best friends, best man at my wedding. Awesome. And yeah, so he– And did it start off
as a WordPress site or as a YouTube video? It started as a WordPress site. November, right? November, it started
as a WordPress site. I already had a
power user profile. Yeah. [INAUDIBLE] all that stuff. You know how [INAUDIBLE]. So as long as he
writes the content, I can use one of those
profiles and blow it up. And in January, like three
months after launch, somebody– I forget who– was telling
me how I don’t know how to do anything on YouTube. And I was like,
man, you know what? Screw you. And what year was this? 2012. So 2011, November,
we launched this. And some dude is like, oh,
yeah, video is very different. You don’t know shit about video. Yeah, [INAUDIBLE] work. [INAUDIBLE] Yeah, and I’m like, listen,
man, the quality of your videos don’t even matter. And he was arguing
for it, and you were saying it doesn’t matter. I’m saying it doesn’t
matter, because I was so getting pissed off at this
guy, because he’s telling me how it’s so hard. And I’m like, dude, the quality
of your videos doesn’t matter. I bet you I can make the
channel bigger than yours. And this guy had like 20,000
or 30,000 subscribers. And he thought he was hot shit. So I’m like, let me do this. I’m going to game YouTube. You went back to
your black hat roots. My black hat stuff. [INTERPOSING VOICES] I’m like, I’m going
to study this. I’m going to study
is how this works. So I kid you not, I
wanted a YouTube channel. I realized the age of the
channel was very important. So you bought somebody else’s. No. List25 was not available. It was a closed channel. Somebody had it,
and they closed it. So I hit up my ad
rep and said, yo, I need this channel unlocked. If you do, I’ll
increase my budget. So they gave me that channel. Whoa. So now– And this thing started early– ’06. [CHUCKLES] Oh, wow. So now I have a channel in
’06 but no videos on it. So how did you figure
out what YouTube– I mean, it’s an
interesting principle, because it’s like
hacking anything, right? Right, right, right. How do you reverse engineer? I mean, you probably
knew some people, but how did you figure that out? I asked a few friends,
and I start looking at [INAUDIBLE] ranking higher. It was a domain. And YouTube was Google owned,
so I was thinking, OK– It’s using that same– –age of domain– Is one of the factors. –matters with Google. Yeah, exactly. So yeah, ’06 channel
now starting in 2011, and this is what we did. Videos were shit quality– probably 320p, OK? We took those 500-pixel-wide
images from a blog, blew it up, and– Pixelated. –pixelated, and all what
David was doing was– And then narrate? –yeah, narrating it. So essentially, just so
everybody can get the visual, it’s a blog post with photos. The list is 25. Yes. You’re taking the heading
photos from each section, stretching it, so
it’s pixelated. Yep. And David is narrating
it and creating a video. Dang right. Hit publish. And putting it up there,
I would optimize it. And guess what? Put it on StumbleUpon, baby. That’s it. So you used your profile
you built up, gets going. What were some of the
early traction numbers? So the first month, I believe
we got few thousand subs, and then it started going
to like 10,000 and onwards. And it just really
started catching on. Like within six months,
how many subs did you have? I don’t recall, but
it beat the guy. Like tens of thousands? It beat that guy. Oh, really. Whatever he had, you’re
like, got you, bro. Right, and he was pissed,
because he’s like, dude, this is like shit quality video. And I’m like, listen,
man, all I have to do is publish more
videos than you do and optimize it better than
you do, and I know the game. And my whole thing was just
to see if I could do it. And it worked. How much content did you
eventually end up pushing? Is it like weekly, daily? What did you get to? Yeah, I started out
with once a week. Because I think of
marketplaces and like focus, like the bowling pin, what
was the first category of List25 were you’re doing? Dude, it was like things that
you shouldn’t be looking at, but you want to look at. Such as? Because I know
what comes in mind. Brutal torture techniques. Really? Are these subreddits? Where you get those from? I swear to God. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Is that it? You looked at subreddit in
the deep of the underbelly of the internet? Yes, that was the
most popular article. We would rank, I think,
number one for the word torture techniques,
and you would be surprised how many people
are searching for that. I mean, there’s
obviously a benefit that Syed Balkhi’s
name’s not on– No. You know what I mean? Like I didn’t even know
you owned this thing until we had dinner here. And you’re like, yeah,
I’m doing this thing. And I’m like, how are
you pulling this off? Dude, so it was just like find
the person, creative endeavors, invest in it. And has that been the
pattern for other projects that you’ve kicked off is
who’s going to lead this? Yeah, but I’ve gotten
smarter about it. Just because I’m
good at the hacking part of things [INAUDIBLE]. Doesn’t mean you should do it. Just like now it’s more
focused and aligned– Real business. Yeah, with what
we’ve got going on and where we’re trying to go. So how are you making
decisions today around projects you take
on or don’t take on? Yeah, it has to be in
the WordPress base, because that’s
what we’re good at. Has to be an essential. The solution that we’re working
towards has to be an essential. Essential meaning it has to be
needed by all WordPress sites. It has to be needed
by the [INAUDIBLE] serving so desperately
that this is the last thing that you cancel if your
business was about to go out. Wow, I mean, that’s clear. Right, extremely clear. OK. So no utilities. OK. If you come and
say, hey, you know what, I’m trying to make my
website Google AMP compatible, you should make a
plugin for that, no. No. Because who knows
five years later what Google will do to AMP? So what are other
categories that– I mean, obviously, this is
your secret sauce– but I mean, are there any that are obvious
that you think are next for you in that space? Yeah, I mean, I have like
exactly the blueprint of what we’re trying to do,
the company that we’re going to be taking
stakes in this year. I’m actually meeting
up with one tonight. I’m not going to talk about it. For sure. Yeah, it’s early. And have you ever
raised venture for this? No, I’ve been bootstrapped
since the beginning. And I don’t intend to raise– You’ve been in the
space, like, I think, the affiliate summit,
the internet marketing, and you meet these young guys
that make a lot of money. But you’ve never been that guy. And that’s what I’ve
always appreciated it. What do you think financially,
from a reinvestment point of view, do
you feel that you do better or right
than the other guys from creating real wealth? Something about
software for me– I love the continuity of it. I love that every month I’ve
got to earn the customer. It’s just an honest
business model. And I’ve always been a big
fan of reinvesting in growth. It just didn’t make sense for me
to take money out and spend it on depreciating asset when
I know I can get a bigger one in the next 12 months. It seems like you
also believe in that. What do you do personally
around investing either yourself or other assets? How do you think of that? Yeah, I started making
money at quite an early age. And I was just
afraid of losing it. Being honest with you,
when I was younger, seeing where I came from. Because you came from nothing. Yeah, I came from nothing. And I didn’t want
to go back to that. So I saw a lot of my friends,
same age, maybe a year or two older than me,
completely crushing it on Myspace and some of
the other early days and buying these BMWs or even
Lambos that they can’t afford, but they’re buying it. They make payments. Right, and I was like, man,
I’m not going to do that. So I saved my money,
which actually turned out to be a good decision. Because [INAUDIBLE]
correct, and also, you’re in a good position. Yeah, market’s
correct, and my mentor helped me find some
really, really good deals in commercial real
estate, triple net leases, learned that game
from him all the way. And I started
diversifying a little bit, because that gave
me peace of mind. Because now I know you can’t
kick me out of my house. I know you can’t do this. So it just take away
all those fears. And that security
allowed you to push even harder in the business? Absolutely. Exactly. That security, because
I was not worried. I was no longer worried. Making payments,
supporting your lifestyle– Exactly. –take care of your family. Right, and so I was
like, oh, I can’t lose. Yeah, so now it’s
all house money. Yeah. Yeah, it’s like, what
do we do with this? Right. Do you think there’ll
be a point in the future where you take some
capital to grow things? No. No. So you’re good bootstrapping,
free cash flow, reinvest. Yeah. And why software? I mean, obviously,
you’ve done a bunch of different annuity-type
things with SEO, et cetera, but why software? Recurring revenue
is quite attractive. But I feel that– Did you learn that from the real
estate stuff from your mentor? When I look at software
and real estate, I feel like they have similar– Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it’s very, very
close to triple net leases if you put the right team in it. But the coolest
part about software is that you can actually make a
real big difference, especially what we’re doing now. And that’s just exciting being
at the forefront of innovation. And software is
quite like hacking, seeing what does the user
want versus what do they need. And figuring that out,
whoever figures that out wins the game, so yeah. So that’s neat. And you’ve seen I
recently brought my group that I coach to see
Jason Cohen at WP Engine. I mean, they’ve built, I
think it’s $100 million a year company in like
six, seven years. Yeah. Does it blow your
mind– it blows my mind that WordPress is so big. Tell us everybody watching
the stats on WordPress, so they can get a sense of– Yeah, dude, it
doesn’t blow my mind, because I’ve been in
WordPress for last 13 years. WordPress powers
33% of all websites. A third of the internet
is powered by WordPress. Absolutely. It’s a multiple-billion-dollar
industry. Wow. A multiple-billion-dollar
industry. And how does it break
down like What are they doing
in the market? Why is WP Engine
competitive against them? Why is there the ability
for an ecosystem to exist? I mean, org
is an open-source project. It’s run by the foundation. So they have no
bearing on WP Engine. OK. What a lot of times
people confuse is
and are two separate entities. There’s no shared overlap? There’s no shared overlap,
except that the founder is the same person. Is he still the president
of the nonprofit? He is, but there’s a board now. OK, so there’s some oversight. Right, there’s some oversight. is how
big of a business? I believe they’re private still. Yeah, they’re still private. I have some idea, but
I probably won’t share. Are they bigger or
smaller than WP Engine? Pretty close, I would say. Really? Yeah. So it’s pretty
impressive what they’ve built over at WP Engine. Who are the other big guys
in the WordPress space? The biggest fishes
in the working space are the GoDaddys of the world. Squarespace? Squarespace is not WordPress. Endurance. No, but, yeah, OK, got it. So GoDaddy actually runs
WordPress for their– Like hosting. OK. Yeah, hosting is a big,
big market in WordPress, because to try run
a WordPress site, you’ve got to have a
domain and hosting. GoDaddy is the
biggest in the world. And do you have a
company that does that? No, that’s not a business
that I want to be in. OK. It’s a very high overhead. Commodity. High overhead. High overhead. And extremely,
extremely competitive. Yeah, hosting, dude. I started a hosting company. It was my second company
that lost a lot of money. I learned my lesson. Where do you see the SaaS
space going next in regards to how people are
buying, the price points, how we support customers? What do you guys do to
compete in the software space? Because WordPress is
obviously very competitive. I mean, you probably
have many projects, like myself, all of a
sudden, you’re on UpWork. Somebody’s like, copy this site. I will pay you $500
to copy this tool. What do you do to
stay competitive? The cool part about
the WordPress ecosystem is that I feel it’s still
a little behind compared to when you’re looking at other
SaaS, it doesn’t move as fast. That’s my honest
opinion on that. For us, just looking at
what’s happening [INAUDIBLE] bringing it over to
the WordPress space, and really talking
to our customers. We make– do
proactive NPS surveys, but we do it a
little differently. We ask conditional
questions based on what they put in as their
rating, whether it’s 9 and 10, 7 or 8, or 6, below. And then there’s the
secondary question which is like, if you could
have us build one more feature or add one thing,
what would it be? And from there– So really customer driven. Really, really customer driven. And that helps make our product
be the best in the market. Was there a point where
the WordPress community didn’t like doing monthly
subscription tools? Yes. Because I felt like
that was a big thing where themes, et cetera,
there were like one-offs, and it was really hard
to get a continuity. Absolutely. And what shifted, or
how did that come about? Even now, it’s more
widely adopted. But it’s still like
people prefer one-offs. Yeah, so one-offs. You see very little
monthly subscriptions. It’s more annual. So it’s annual? It’s more annual subscriptions. OK. The reason for that is
it’s a downloadable. Yeah, and they install it. Right, unless you can do
what OptinMonster does. Our WordPress plugin
is just a connector between our app [INAUDIBLE]. You need an API. So at that point,
we can do monthly. But even you guys, you were
early to the game of monthly within the WordPress– We were like one of the
first in the WordPress space to do monthly, yeah. And it’s interesting how
there is a cognitive bias towards a certain
approach to business that, even if it’s internet,
even though it’s technology, I want to pay one time. I don’t want to
pay a subscription. That’s why I look at Adobe, and
I for them to do what they did, that was a big shift in
their business model. Oh, yeah. You’ve got to
retrain the consumer. Yeah, retrain the
whole consumer. What are other things
that you feel– maybe yourself, rather–
the best SaaS companies are doing well to really
differentiate and compete? Really creating good
content is very important. So education-based marketing. Education-based
marketing is important. Some of the best SaaS
companies that I’m looking at are doing very well on
in-product marketing. OK, unpack that. So you have multiple
tiers on your SaaS. And oftentimes, you might
have certain features that are locked. Some of the apps
are not even showing those features that are locked. Yeah, so you don’t even
know they’re available. You don’t even know they exist. So just adding that– Adding the link to the
screen and then explaining on this screen you can unlock
it if you upgrade your account. Exactly. Heck, even show a fake preview. Yeah, so in-app marketing. Even show a fake
preview of what it is. Yeah, image. And then put a video there. Put something of education
of why this is important. That kind of thing is just
hidden revenue for you. Yeah, sell more stuff to
your existing customers. Absolutely. That’s really smart. I remember talking to Hubspot. And they mentioned that one of
their biggest expansion revenue opportunities– and the
reason why it was a cost is they used to have to make a
customer that wanted to upgrade to the next level or
even unlock an add-on get on a call with a sales rep. And now what they do is
they allow you to unlock it for a limited trial, which
then forces the upgrade or the add-on, because it’s a
lot easier to them to obviously use it– Absolutely. –and then hit that upper limit. What do you guys
do for retention? Or do you do anything clever
to help with expansion revenue? Reduce churn? We try to make sure that the
usage of our product is high. A lot of times, if
the usage is not high, you’re going to
lose that customer. And you won’t be able to save– No matter what you say
or discount you offer. Right. What kind of
cancellation workflow you put in, if you
the usage ain’t there, you’re not going to win. So what we do is we
celebrate the usage. So after– Like gamify. Right, kind of like gamify. After x days, we’ll say, hey,
you got this many entries. Go ahead, leave a review. Go do this. Changing you that
messaging around usage. If we see that you’re not using
it, then somebody from our team will reach out and say, hey. So do you have
somebody on your team– customer success or whatever– Customer [INAUDIBLE]. –actively monitor– Absolutely. –new accounts,
activation, usage, and if they’re not there– Yes. So it’s celebrate
when they get some wins but then also
actively ask them, if they’re not using yet– Yes. –where they’re stuck. Yes. And it’s like manual
plus automated sequences that are happening– so using Intercom, that’s
like sending messages. Big fan. And then, of course– yeah,
I know you’re a big fan. [LAUGHTER] Yeah. I don’t hide the fact. Cool. So there is a people
side to your business. Yes. Because as a bootstrap
dude, you’ve obviously got to look at your expenses,
and people are expensive. Have you figured
out the ROI of where people make sense for some of
this stuff or even price point on accounts? Are there any accounts that
don’t get a manual contact? Yeah, yeah. We don’t do that on
our lowest-end plan. But we know on the
higher-end plan it makes more sense to do it. If somebody– I always
say your business– but if somebody bought
a SaaS business today, what’s the first thing you
think they should change the day after to make it more– The checkout funnel. And do unpack one. Look at what your
card abandonment is. That’s the first thing. I start there. If it is like recurring
revenue, and you already have a lot of
recurring revenue, then I start even one
level below that and look at how much
fail payment you have. Fixing that fail payment is a
big issue that a lot of people don’t even look at. They don’t. They don’t. And that’s just bleeding money. And it’s free money the
moment you unlock it. And you can put in some
simple dunning rules just to get it started. And there’s tools
out there for that. Right, already. So start there– a little
bit higher up in the funnel, which is your check-out page. Take a look at what’s the
abandonment looking like there. I will give a quick
example, a small change that you can make that we did. In the app, it was
being communicated that you were going to get a
discount if you upgrade today. You got to the pricing
page, but the discount price wasn’t being listed there. Oh. And the messaging in
the app was saying discount was auto-applied. It was auto-applied on the
cart, but it was not being communicated– Not shown on the pricing. Not being shown. So just changing that– It’s the message match. Absolutely. So people don’t even
look at their own flow, and they go, oh, well, that
doesn’t make any sense. Right, so just making sure
those little attention details are there,
reducing the fields, of course– common sense stuff. Putting an email field
above everything, that’s one of the first things I do. And then bring them back to
the cart if they abandon, is that why? Exactly. Dude, I love how
nerdy and technical you can get on the
optimization business model. Oh yeah. It’s all like high level. What are some of the
companies that you admire that are doing
cool things that may be one level down? Everybody can mention the Drifts
and the Dropboxes, et cetera. Even in your space or
outside your space, who are you guys that you admire
the way they’re operating? And, of course, I love
WP Engine in their space. They’re doing some
really, really cool stuff. The guys the Nextiva are
doing really awesome stuff– business phone services. I like what they’re
doing, just looking at it. Always cool to see what
[INAUDIBLE] is doing. We’re just making
[? something for ?] free. [CHUCKLES] [INAUDIBLE] funnel. Yeah, [INAUDIBLE] on
top of the funnel. And I think that’s
happening across the board, just lowering the price– There’s going to be free
versions of everything –lowering the price. Lowering price, lowering
the price until you figure out the user base. And then you can sell
them anything you want. If you had to wipe everything
away from a tech product focus that you have, start over today,
if you had to kind of design– or even yourself– let’s say
you had a half million dollars to invest or build or buy, what
would you go look at for a SaaS that you would want
to be involved in? And you don’t have the
WordPress community, like you’re starting
from scratch. What do you think makes
a good SaaS product? Like what price point? What industry? Man, if I was to go in, I would
try to look a little bit more into the accounting space. Why’s that? I think there’s
a big void there. You mean like in the zero space? In the [INAUDIBLE]
and in aerospace. OK. And what kind of price
point do you like? I mean, do you like mid-market? Do you like SMB? I like SMB, because it
doesn’t have a sales overhead. It’s easier to sell. Of course, there’s
high churn on SMB. But I would rather take that
and then just build that brand. And then the mid-market
and enterprise will just come to you. They show up eventually anyway– They show up. They show up. –once you own that brand. Yeah, because the inbound
becomes the big, best channel at that point, because
you are everywhere. Yeah, and you don’t
have to convince people to buy the product. They’re just showing up. Right. Just as we wrap up,
what’s the one lesson you feel your mentor taught you? Obviously, the technical
in the triple net lease and all that stuff. But what’s the
mindset belief thing that you, if you had to distill
everything he’s done, giving you advice, what would that be? Just finding alignment. What does that mean for you? Just looking at who
has what you want and figuring out
how does that align, what can you offer to them that
aligns to unlock that piece? To connect with them. To connect with them, to
leverage what they have– figuring out what can
you offer them right now. To collaborate or to add
value to their world. Yeah, collaborate or
add value, add bundles, or whatever you’re doing– just finding the alignment. Alignment with the
person you want. And just because I
think it’s fascinating, what are things that somebody
can– because there’s a lot of people
that are like, well, I don’t have anything
they would want. What have you seen
work for somebody that’s just starting off? No. You always have
something they want. Otherwise, you don’t
have a business. Do you know what I’m saying? You’re filling a success gap
in their customer’s journey. And likely, they are
filling a success gap in your customer’s journey. Got it. So finding that
alignment partnership to get distribution
of your product. Yeah. That’s awesome. That’s probably the
best thing you can do. That’s cool. Syed, I appreciate you, man. Absolutely. Awesome having you on. Likewise. All right, everybody,
check out– well, where can people
find you online?– That’s awesome. –is probably where you can
see everything we’re doing. Yeah, we’ll link it out. All right, buddy. Cool. Thanks again. Yeah.


  • Reply Dan Martell June 6, 2019 at 11:50 am

    Episode 3 – Escape Velocity – Syed Balkhi unpacks the lessons from getting 2.5 million YT subscribers and starting over 2 dozen companies in the last decade.

  • Reply Jordan E June 6, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Great insight.

  • Reply David Melnichuk June 6, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    Keep them coming! Great episode.

  • Reply Ritwik B June 7, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    Even I was shocked after hearing "2000"…lol. Anyways Great Video..!!

  • Reply Kyle Comino June 7, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    Dan, this is awesome. Thank you for starting this!

  • Reply Tony Amoyal June 12, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    Favorite quote – "Software is quite like hacking"

  • Reply Jamil Qr June 17, 2019 at 7:18 am

    Just wonder how your name is balkhi,dispite Balkh is inside Afghanistan ,are your perents from Afghanistan originaly?

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