May 03, 2024


Startup Names

Hosted by

Jordan Gal Brian Casel
Startup Names
Bootstrapped Web
Startup Names

May 03 2024 | 00:53:55


Show Notes

Choosing a name. YouTube experiments. SEO. Reaching a foreign industry. Branding exercise. The New York Knicks.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:16] Speaker A: Hello, everybody, and welcome back to another episode of Bootstrap Web. [00:00:21] Speaker B: How we doing? [00:00:22] Speaker A: It's Friday, sunny. [00:00:23] Speaker B: It is Friday. Yes. The Knicks are winning. Oh, dude, the Knicks. Oh, man. It's this. Okay, so the Knicks won last night. They won in, you know, a six game. They won game six. We're moving on to the next round. They're likable. This is the, I think, one of the best store. Obviously, I'm a lifelong Knicks fan, so I'm a little bit biased here, but. [00:00:47] Speaker A: Sure, I never liked the Ewing and Oakley. Those teams were exhausting, dude. [00:00:52] Speaker B: I mean, I loved those teams, but I mean, but like, no matter what fan you are, this team is just unbelievable to watch. Like, there are so many different storylines and the hunger of the Knicks fan. My daughter was asking me, like, when. [00:01:10] Speaker A: Was the last time the Knicks desperation. [00:01:12] Speaker B: When was the last time the Knicks won a championship? And I was like 1973. And she was like, I wasn't even born then. I was like, I wasn't even born then. This is the hunger of the Knicks fan. [00:01:23] Speaker A: I know. [00:01:24] Speaker B: I mean, and just so many storylines, dude. And this series was one of the most unbelievable NBA playoff series in history. Every game. I mean, literally last night, game Sixers are playing for their life. The Knicks are trying to close it out. First quarter, Knicks are up 14. Second quarter, we're back to tide. Third quarter, Knicks are down 14. Fourth quarter, it's tied. And the Knicks pull it out. I mean, and that was the story of the whole series. It was unbelievable. Yeah, I saw, and then like, all these New York fans, like traveling from New York to Philly and then the Philly ownership trying to protect against the invasion of the Knicks fans, buying up all the tickets in Philadelphia, the ownership buys up 2500 tickets, 25. [00:02:08] Speaker A: This is basically to avoid, to prevent New York span of the stadium. [00:02:12] Speaker B: Yeah, because like, the chanting from New York fans, from Knicks fans in the Sixers arena has like, oh, my God, unbelievable storyline. [00:02:23] Speaker A: And I saw pictures of you and the girls. That was the one time you didn't go in a second time, did you? [00:02:28] Speaker B: No, no. Yeah. So we went to game one and I've been, you know, watching all the other games on tv. [00:02:33] Speaker A: Cool. It's fun. [00:02:35] Speaker B: Fun. [00:02:35] Speaker A: Well, I had a board meeting and a root canal on the same day this week, so I had a different experience than you did watching the next. [00:02:42] Speaker B: Yeah, there you go. That's, I don't know which of those sounds more fun, the root canal or the board meeting. [00:02:48] Speaker A: Well, the root canal was definitely worse. The board meeting is good. It's always helpful. It just organizes your thoughts. And this board meeting in particular was unique because the last time we had a board meeting, all the numbers and the updates were about the checkout product. And this board meeting three months later is, here's this new product we're building. Here's the problem we're solving. Here's the solution. Here's the competitive landscape, the tech strategy, the go to market. You know, it's like this very, very different thing. And what I found myself doing after the board meeting was texting our lead investor, who's on our board, and basically just saying, thank you for trusting us and trusting me, because I didn't ask for any permission. I'm just following my gut. And the fact that a VC investor that put a lot of money in is not generating any friction around that. That is, you know, a real sign that they invested in me and the team. [00:03:51] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:03:51] Speaker A: And they trust, and that. That's awesome. That is not. Can't be taken for granted. [00:03:57] Speaker B: So, yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, I'm not so obviously tuned into, like, the whole BC thing, but I feel like if, if the first stab, because, like, I guess the. The bet of VC is like, all right, we're going to invest in a bunch of these companies, and hopefully a small minority of them will work out, and the assumption is most of them won't. And if your first crack at this business didn't nail it, instead of just putting it in the group of companies that they're just going to write off, it's almost like they have another chance. And you have another chance because you're going, yes. I think you're taking on something else. Yeah. [00:04:40] Speaker A: I think we course corrected early enough that it is a full chance. It is a full round of funding and then some. So it is a full chance. It can be seen as maybe giving up too early. But I laid out my thinking on that front. [00:04:53] Speaker B: I don't think so. [00:04:54] Speaker A: Me neither. And the alternative is giving money back. And sometimes there's pressure to do that. I have not gotten any pressure to do that. The only thing that I was given was. Wasn't out. Basically, in case you want to shut this down, please know that we'll support you in doing that. So just to make sure, like, you're not doing this out of, like, guilt or obligation. So, you know, I feel like all those points were important to address, and now it's like, no, we love the team. We have money in the bank. The valuation wasn't so high that we feel like it's you know, we're so underwater that it's pointless. And so everyone's like, all right, cool, let's see what we can do. [00:05:37] Speaker B: I have a question for you. And we weren't planning on talking about this, but. So, okay, given what you know now about where the trajectory has led you to with this rally company, would you have gone the same route, whether it's funding, structure of things, if you were starting from zero today? [00:06:04] Speaker A: If I was starting from zero today, I would not raise venture unless I had an idea that I thought, hey, this thing needs a lot of money. [00:06:12] Speaker B: Is that a function of today's market? [00:06:18] Speaker A: It's a combination of the market, but also, I think, more important than the market, you can build things that grow fast with less money and fewer people. [00:06:29] Speaker B: Yes. [00:06:30] Speaker A: You know, it doesn't mean it will grow fast. It just means the, the DNA of the Internet is kind of set up in a healthier way than it was a few years ago, especially around AI. [00:06:42] Speaker B: Right. [00:06:42] Speaker A: Not like a surprise that I want to go in that direction, but, yeah, I think bootstrap companies with a few people that are really profitable are, you know, that is a phenomenal position to be in. [00:06:56] Speaker B: Yeah. Yeah. [00:06:58] Speaker A: VC, you have to get a bunch more things. Right. But looking back, I think it was a good bet, the, the chat. [00:07:04] Speaker B: And I think that's a different question, too. I think a lot of people mistake that. Like, if it's like, if you were to do it over today, would you do it differently? Like, yeah, probably. But that doesn't necessarily mean that, like, it was the wrong decision. That's a couple of years ago. I feel the same way about my stuff. Like, I think given what I knew then, I think I made a lot of the right decisions. But did I end up where I wanted it to be today? Like, no, probably not, you know? Yeah, same. [00:07:28] Speaker A: And I, you know, when I look at the checkout product and I think about what we should do with it, maybe we should sell it off, that sort of thing. It's still. I still get a lot of hesitation at giving that thing up and taking it out of our hands because that. That idea is going to be worth an enormous amount of money. I think what we ran into is that there are so many powerful interests, interests with distribution and far, far more power and money. So, you know, stripe, I love stripe. Stripe wants link to be a vault. So there are just limits to what you can do with Stripe as a partner. If you look at these e commerce platforms, you look at what pays is doing with their partnerships. With the banks, you look at what? Paypal. PayPal's building a rally. Yeah, PayPal's building. [00:08:26] Speaker B: Dude, I still use Apple Pay. Like, if Apple Pay is an option, I'm 90% that's probably going to use that no matter what it is. Yeah. [00:08:33] Speaker A: So in many ways, it's almost like we would have been better off not being an independent product trying to sell directly to end users. We maybe would have been better off selling our tech as like a white label type of licensing solution to companies that want to. I mean, who knows, right? But going in and trying to attract merchants one by one, you know, it didn't work. [00:08:55] Speaker B: Yep, yep, yep. Yeah. For sure, man. [00:08:59] Speaker A: What else, brother? What you got going on? [00:09:02] Speaker B: Yeah, I mean, the only thing that's sort of on my mind is really more of a big question. And it's not an urgent question, but it's one that I'm just floating around with lately. And I'll sort of lay it out here. Maybe we can jump back to it in parts throughout this episode. But the main question is where to direct my energy and my time in general. And I've been talking about this, but I now see this year, in 2024, my time is quite literally split in three. It's a pie chart of three parts, and it's actually a third each clarity flow is one third, and it's literally one third of my time. And it's also one third of my income. And I think at this point, it has right sized down to that. It used to be I was giving it full time effort on a Runway to profitability, but not profitable. And now I'm done with that whole game. We were just talking about the last few years, and I'm done investing more time than what I'm seeing in return. So now it's right sized down. [00:10:17] Speaker A: Interesting. A third. [00:10:19] Speaker B: It's literally a third of my time. And it's about a third of my income is what I'm pulling off of that. And then the other third, a second 3rd, is the consulting. And I guess that's sort of the other way around where that accounts for the rest of my income at the moment. But it's about a third of my time, two or three days a week. And clarity flow is about two or three days a week, probably spread across five days, whatever. Time management is a little bit different. So clarity flow and then consulting, and then there's this third chunk, which is about a third of my time. And I've been investing that piece of the pie into in general. It's like I'm investing into audience growth and, and that has been mainly on YouTube. And, and that's, that's where the open question is, because it's, I still believe that, like, in 2024, I'm pretty bullish on if you are interested in growing an audience and growing a distribution channel through a personal audience, YouTube is a fantastic discovery platform. If you can make it work well, it takes a lot of work, a lot of creative energy, a lot of strategy, a lot of technical chops with video and getting better and better at that. And I feel like I've published about twelve or 13 videos this year on my channel. Every time I publish, I try to improve something. I learn a thing or two from the last couple of videos and I try to improve a thing. And I feel like now I'm starting to get a little bit better. I'm not great, but starting to unlock a few creative process learnings when it comes to recording, camera, lighting, editing, production topics, scriptwriting, all this different stuff, thumbnails, positioning. But I still have the open question now of like, what am I going for here? Like, what's the end goal here? And I've been experimenting with different topics and different angles and different target audiences, but at the end of the day, I don't have, I don't necessarily have a product to sell at the end of this funnel of grow audience. Get audience into a funnel to sell what product? [00:12:48] Speaker A: Right. It's indirect. [00:12:49] Speaker B: Yeah. I guess you can maybe say that it's leading to some consulting leads, but that's mostly because I'm sending stuff to my email list and like when I have a new video, I'll send it to my email list. And that has generated a few leads for the consulting and I am booked out for the next two months. But, like, the thought generally has been like, all right, just get back into investing into audience because I know in general, when I have a large audience, things are easier, good things happen, opportunities come my way, and product opportunities reveal themselves. Right. [00:13:26] Speaker A: But where's the disconnect? [00:13:27] Speaker B: The disconnect is, you know, like we've talked about with your stuff about like, well, should you sell to SaaS companies? Right? Like, should you sell a SaaS to SaaS companies? Yep. And the, the topics that I'm making videos about are about business, about product strategy, about bootstrapping, about product ideas, about entrepreneurship, mindset. And so, and I'm just kind of speaking from my experience, but I don't know if this is the best audience for me to invest my time into. Like I don't know if I'm going to have any products that are, that are worth pursuing for this audience. You know, I don't know, like, I don't have a specific. A few years back, I used to do teaching about productized services, but that was a much more clear cut. Like, freelancers have a problem, they need to scale their business. Productized services is the answer. I could teach a course on that to solve that problem, and that worked pretty well. But now I don't know that I have, like, another course in me. I don't. I don't know that, like, a course, like a target audience with a target problem is necessarily revealing itself. I don't know if I want to do courses. I don't know if, like, a community is where this ends up going. I don't know if I want to do that. Ultimately, what I probably want to end up doing is just making more software products. That's probably what I'm most interested in doing, is just growing a portfolio of small software products. And, yeah, so I don't know, with the YouTube thing, it's like, yeah, I get a little bit better with each video, and some videos do better than others in terms of views, but it's one of those things where like, yeah, I'm putting a lot of time and a lot of energy in this, and I know that it's a long term investment, but I don't know if it's the kind of thing that I just need to give it more time to see it grow and then opportunities will reveal themselves. Or if all this time is sort of wasted and I should be redirecting that energy somewhere else. Because if I go back to my pie chart, I still want to make sure that I am investing in assets that will benefit me long term. [00:15:53] Speaker A: Right. [00:15:53] Speaker B: And that third piece is the most long term asset is the audience, the distribution channel. If I can keep watering that plant, eventually I'm going to have something useful that I can do something with. [00:16:06] Speaker A: I mean, in many ways, what you have now that is useful, that is generating income, is also partly from previous efforts to build an audience. [00:16:15] Speaker B: Yes. [00:16:16] Speaker A: So it does make sense to keep watering it and eating it. [00:16:19] Speaker B: Yeah, I could, like, you could like. [00:16:23] Speaker A: To consult and just raise your hand and just make money like that. That's not like, yeah, it did. [00:16:28] Speaker B: You know what, to be honest, like, it didn't come as easy as it has in the past. Like, when I started audience ops in 20, back in 2015, I announced it and I had instant MRR, like, instant. This was not that this took a few months to get a few good clients in the door. You know, it's like I just either I don't have the same reach that I used to have and a different, different service, different time, different market. [00:16:59] Speaker A: Things are more fragmented. Attention is spread out to more people. There are more creators, there are more. I think it's just a tougher, more competitive Internet. [00:17:08] Speaker B: Yeah, yeah. So I don't know. I don't know what there is in that. Because it's like, yeah, because it's like that third piece of the pie. I could invest in anything. I could invest in. I still believe in YouTube. Maybe I do YouTube in a totally different space and start planting some seeds, but maybe that's too different. Maybe I keep doubling down on what I already have, which is some inroads into this community, the SaaS startup world. Maybe I just spend this time just going deeper into code and just build stuff. And I've iterated on, like, should I be like a teacher? Should I be just a build in public guy? Should I be like, I don't know, like, it's. [00:17:56] Speaker A: Yeah, you know, a different way to look at investing time would be building something because it's not immediate reward, it's not immediate income, but it is planting a seed in much the same way that audience building is. [00:18:11] Speaker B: Yeah, but the thought there is that, like, yeah, I could build stuff, but that doesn't feel like an investment because I'm not actually. This part of the pie should be invested in growing a distribution channel. Anyone can. I could code up apps all day. Right. [00:18:28] Speaker A: Like a compounding element to the effort. [00:18:31] Speaker B: Yeah. I can't just build quietly. And so I don't know, that's like, the open question is, like, I do like the idea of creating and creating on YouTube and putting myself out there and creating content, but I'm still sort of like stabbing in the dark in terms of what's the topic, who's the target customer, what's the problem that I'm solving, and where is this going ultimately? It's kind of weird now because I'm not on a timeline. Like, I could, I could just keep doing this. Like, I'm generally sustainable with the type of consulting that I'm doing and I've got a little bit of clarity flow stuff going on. And then, you know, I could sustain this for a while, but I would like to at some point, get back to, like, building toward a larger goal. Okay. Yeah, yeah. [00:19:27] Speaker A: I don't think you should put too much pressure on exactly figuring that out I think this introspection is a natural part of it. [00:19:32] Speaker B: Yeah, yeah. And I'm trying to not rush into that pressure mindset that I had the last few years. I'm just trying to experiment with different things, try different things on, you know, that's basically all I've got right now. We'll hop over to you, but I guess I could talk through some clarity, flow updates and. [00:19:59] Speaker A: Yeah, why don't I talk about the, you know, the big thing for my week was we got to a point on this new product that we're building, that the marketing was being held up. [00:20:13] Speaker B: Right. [00:20:13] Speaker A: So we're looking at is two tracks, right. The product track and the marketing track. And we want them to keep pace with each other. So I'm pushing product and product is pushing back, saying, we'll get us people to talk to. And, you know, we're having these, these healthy debates. It's been a lot of fun, actually, because choosing an approach or like our new philosophy on how to build this product. And that usually results in debate argument between rock and Jess and myself. And it's like this three person argument. And sometimes you side with one person, sometimes you're against that other person's point of view and it moves around. It feels good because it's, there have been times where we kind of are on slack and someone will be like, hold on, I think you're getting a little worked up about this. Let's just jump on Zoom. [00:21:06] Speaker B: Right? [00:21:06] Speaker A: This isn't nothing personal here. We're not actually mad, we're just arguing. So that definitely happened once or twice. [00:21:13] Speaker B: All right, what can you share about? What are the debates? Whatever you can or tend to hear. [00:21:20] Speaker A: So let me get to that in just a sec. The fun thing of this week was choosing a name. [00:21:26] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:21:27] Speaker A: Because that was like this roadblock that once you have a name, then you get a domain, then you can start to move toward getting a site online. And that allows for new marketing and sales activities to happen, some cold stuff. And just being able to send people to a site that says what you do instead of explaining it over a call is necessary. [00:21:50] Speaker B: Oh, totally. Yeah. [00:21:51] Speaker A: Yes. So of course I agonize for days. I'm up late. I'm looking at all the new startup name generators, permutation domain of it. Like I'm deep in startup. [00:22:06] Speaker B: When I did the rebrand of clarity flow, I killed myself for like two months with lists of names and so, and what domains are available and all that. [00:22:14] Speaker A: Right. So I was, I was worried about that and I knew I don't have that luxury. I have a few days, period. Right. Trying to force myself to be fast on this stuff. So I go to Twitter. I'm like, where should I look for domains? Of course. People are like, namecheap. Like, no, guys, not where do I register? I'm in a different form of agony right now. [00:22:33] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:22:34] Speaker A: So I do this for days. Eventually I just go to my wife. I explained what we're trying to do for her, and then first response, she nails it. [00:22:43] Speaker B: Wait, so she and I, for those listening, we're not gonna reveal the name here? [00:22:47] Speaker A: No, not yet. [00:22:48] Speaker B: You told me earlier what it is. But are you saying that she came up with the name, like, suggested that as a name, or did you have the name and you ran it by her? [00:22:58] Speaker A: No, she came up with the name. [00:22:59] Speaker B: Oh, that's great. Yeah. [00:23:00] Speaker A: First thing, she just let me think about it. Three minutes later, here you go. Boom, nails it. I go to the team, everyone's like, I love it. I'm like, okay, fine. I gotta give my wife credit. [00:23:10] Speaker B: I gotta say, knowing I know what it is and it is a good name. It's good, it's good. It's well done. Yeah, I like it. [00:23:16] Speaker A: I'm psyched. We went out and got a domain. It was right at the budget level that I wanted to spend. So that was fun. Now, beyond fun, the actual debates inside the company have been super interesting, because what I'm finding is that AI is a weird part of the Internet right now. Everything's okay. So now I understand why things are called foundational models. Maybe I'm wrong here, and there's, like, a technical explanation, but there are a few models that everyone builds on. And as people start to build layers on top of those models, it gets pretty confusing. What's a wrapper? What's real value? What's an API? What's an admin on top of APIs? [00:24:05] Speaker B: You probably know more about this than I do. So, okay, so what do you define as a foundation and model? Are we talking about, like, there is OpenAI, and then there's, like, anthropic, and then there's, like, Google. Are those the foundational? [00:24:18] Speaker A: Yes, yes. Individual models. [00:24:20] Speaker B: And Facebook has llama, right? [00:24:22] Speaker A: Yes, that's right. And here, let me just try to open this up. Where is this? [00:24:26] Speaker B: Those are the four that I know of. [00:24:28] Speaker A: Yes. [00:24:28] Speaker B: In terms of, like, foundational, like, large language models. [00:24:32] Speaker A: Yes. Now, the thing with those is that they do different things. And what we're describing right now are, like, llms. So an LLM, like the language model is the thing that gives you text. But our product has three components. It has the model that we just talked about. That's the LLM. It has the transcriber that turns speech to text, and then it has the voice element that turns text to speech. [00:25:03] Speaker B: Right. [00:25:03] Speaker A: So, like, AI voice, like talking to a machine, feels like magic. In reality, it's relatively straightforward. I say words as the human. I say words to the system, the system listens to my words and then takes that speech and turns it into text. That's the transcriber. [00:25:22] Speaker B: Right. So then it takes that. [00:25:23] Speaker A: Hold on, let me finish. Like, so, like, the explanation is complete. It then takes that text and submits it to an llm the same way you and I go to GPT and we write in text and hit enter. Then it talk. Then the model does its thing and it gives you a response in text. And then there's the voice element that takes that text and responds to me, the human in voice. So it's like not magic, it's just all different pieces. [00:25:48] Speaker B: It's like a chain. Yeah. So like the transcribing piece, the voice to text. Like, that's not AI. There are APIs for that. Like AWS offers that as an API. Like, there's a bunch of them out there. [00:26:01] Speaker A: Yes, but there are specialized AI models for this stuff. So something like a Deepgram, for example. [00:26:11] Speaker B: Okay, I don't know what that is. [00:26:14] Speaker A: Yes. So there are tools like Deepgram that maybe they're not like llms, like an OpenAI model, but that's a pretty foundational thing that you need. You need to nail that. And not only do you need to nail that, you definitely should not build that. [00:26:30] Speaker B: No. Yeah. [00:26:30] Speaker A: Given what we're doing, we shouldn't build it. [00:26:32] Speaker B: I mean, so far, everything that you described should. Should not be built. [00:26:37] Speaker A: That's right. And that's where it starts to get weird. That's when you start to look at it and you're like, okay, so we're going to build our service. We're going to take this LLM model, we're going to take this transcriber, and then we're going to take this voice generator. [00:26:51] Speaker B: Right? [00:26:52] Speaker A: There's one called play ht, for example, awesome voices. So now we're taking these three parts, and then as the company, as ourselves, you start looking at these like, I know OpenAI isn't going anywhere, and I know Facebook isn't going anywhere. Feeling good about those. Then you start looking over at like Deepgram and you're like, okay, they raised a bunch of money. They're pretty good. Like, I think we can bet on this. Then you look at play ht, then you look at these different parts and you're like, what are we doing here? We're kind of building a service on top of existing services, some of which are built by startups that just raise like $3 million. And so it starts to feel a lot less steady than building on AWS with laravel and something else. [00:27:37] Speaker B: Yep. Yeah. It's like, yeah, so you know you're not going to build the LLM, but like if you're going to, if you're going to use some startups tech, no matter how much they just raised, they are still new. But then the question is like, well, what are they building? Can we, can we reverse engineer that and just build what they're building? Yes. [00:28:00] Speaker A: It quickly turns into the Spider man meme of everyone pointing at each other and you're like, but what's the point of your system? Why would we build that when we can just go right to the API? So it feels like a game of really, really identifying where you want to add value and then being honest with yourself on like, is this where I want to live at this layer? The conclusion I came to is that I only want to add value for the end customer. I want a direct building relationship with the end customer. I want to get good at marketing and selling to them every. [00:28:39] Speaker B: And you're less concerned with building deeper and deeper into the chain. You're happy with having like the surface level solution, even, even knowing that there's going to be tons of competitors doing. [00:28:52] Speaker A: Yes, like, literally surface level is a good way to describe it because the surface is where it, like, touches air. Let's just say that's where the customers are. Then there's our layer of an admin that you log into and you onboard and you, you know, choose feature parameters inside of the app. My contention is that everything underneath that layer will be both amazing and commoditized. There will be endless number of voice models, an endless number of transcribers, and amazing models by multiple gigantic multi billion dollar companies. [00:29:26] Speaker B: Yeah, but yours will be like tuned to an industry's needs and a market's needs. [00:29:32] Speaker A: Yes, industry and a problem. So as a software company that feels for a non technical CEO, I'm looking over at my tech team and what I'm trying to convince them of is that they need to think with efficiency in mind. Almost like think lazy, like, don't. We will not be rewarded for building anything underneath that top layer of value. So don't even think about it. Outsource almost everything. We will be rewarded for adding features and integrations and solving problems properly in our UI and UX for the end customer. And what will really be rewarded for is building a sales and marketing machine. So it's weird to like tell your tech team, like, you are already commoditized. Anything below all the way at the top layer is, come on, don't try to be smart. Everything that you think is just kind of okay is going to be incredible. So that's where all those debates are like what are we doing here? How fast should we go? What should we do? [00:30:42] Speaker B: And you're pushing for like the speed, like let's, yes, dirty, let's just use whatever startups, tech if we can brand it and implement it. Yes. [00:30:53] Speaker A: I'm like, if you can't beat that and that costs a few cents a minute, like don't, don't spend our engineering time on it because that's not what we're going to be rewarded for. Because if this fails there will be ten other options within twelve months. And that it doesn't matter if we're not touching that layer, then let's not touch a layer. [00:31:12] Speaker B: Yeah, yeah. I mean I think that makes sense. You know, at the end of the day it's like you're, you're just, you're focusing on the, on going to market and getting the relationship with the customer first. And it is a race, especially in AI. More than anything else right now, I feel like it is a race. Yes. [00:31:32] Speaker A: From there my debates are around how fast to be versus how quality, like between speed and quality. Right now where we live in AI voice, the competition is unsophisticated. There are a lot of companies that are like two or three engineers went to YC, launched a product and they don't get marketing, they don't get branding, they don't get positioning. It's like a technical website, it's AI, all that. So it feels like an opportunity to leapfrog on branding and positioning and marketing. And the odd thing is, I think this is also might be unique to AI where if you started a year ago, you do have a head start on certain things, but because you built your tech a year ago, you can be leapfrogged only because the company's launching today instead of a year ago. [00:32:31] Speaker B: Right. [00:32:32] Speaker A: So it feels like we can jump out and have better marketing, better branding, better positioning and better tech. Because we launch late because you happen. [00:32:39] Speaker B: To be getting into it now. [00:32:40] Speaker A: Yes. [00:32:42] Speaker B: Where are you on like industries and target customer target problem to solve. What can you share there? Yeah. [00:32:51] Speaker A: So what we're going after everything. I think this is common to software, not just AI, but it just feels new because I haven't built a product in a while. But all the pressure feels like it's toward doing more and going wider in terms of industries and like use cases. And I want to stay really, really focused on something very painful and very valuable. So right now we're aimed specifically at inbound sales call handling. So when you are a business and you spend a lot of money on ads and you want that spend to result in a phone call, not a web form, a phone call. And that phone call is worth a lot of money. You are my people. [00:33:35] Speaker B: Right. [00:33:35] Speaker A: So what that leads me to think is any service that's, that's done locally. [00:33:41] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:33:42] Speaker A: Right. Because, because as soon as you limit your geographic area of advertising, the costs go way up. And because local businesses want phone calls as opposed to web form. Right. If I'm a software company or if I'm a mortgage company, like I want, I just want leads. I don't care where they're from. [00:34:01] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:34:02] Speaker A: If I'm a pool service company, I only care about people within an hour drive of my business. And if you think about the way you analyze local businesses, you search online and then you call. So that is a normal pattern. And so that's the, the smaller umbrella that I really like is home services that happen around the home. And if I go up one layer from that, like the biggest umbrella I'm willing to live under is just local businesses in general. [00:34:34] Speaker B: Small businesses. Yeah. [00:34:35] Speaker A: Yes, yes. [00:34:37] Speaker B: I like it. I like that. Yeah, it's still pretty, it's still a wide net, but it's like a, still a set of criteria that makes sense. [00:34:47] Speaker A: Yes. Then you can start to add in things like number of employees and revenue. Right. I had a great conversation with someone who owns a painting company and also sells software to painting companies. You may have introduced us, maybe it was someone else, but this person gave me a great like, picture to keep in mind where these types of trades, these types of categories have a very wide, flat pyramid where 95% of people, 95% of the lower part of the pyramid is mom and pop. One or two person does everything by text, email and excel and you do not really want to aim for them. But that top 5% sees investing in technology as a differentiator against their peers. [00:35:28] Speaker B: Yeah. I was going to ask how are you learning from those, from your end customers. Are you talking to them? Like, how. Yeah, yeah. [00:35:37] Speaker A: Learning. And we're talking to a few people. And now what I need to figure out is how to talk to a lot more people a lot faster. Yeah, yeah. And I'm trying to figure out signals. Right. So if you run your business on service titan, right. That's a CRM that you're going to pay, you know, $20 to $100,000 a year for. [00:35:54] Speaker B: That's. [00:35:55] Speaker A: Who invests in technology? Those are my people. If you invest in field routes, which allows you to do fleet management for your trucks, you're my people. If maybe you are a franchisee of a larger franchisor organization, you buy into systems and maybe you're my people also. So I'm just trying to figure out all this stuff on how to zero in on the right audience. [00:36:20] Speaker B: Right. [00:36:20] Speaker A: Like, if you're a roll up, if you're a private equity company that rolls up h vac companies, like, that's my people. So I'm just trying to figure out how do we identify them and then what? What's the best way to reach them? [00:36:33] Speaker B: You know, this, this question has come up. I've heard this from listeners of this show, and I think you and I have talked about this. I've certainly had this question many times. And that is, how do we reach potential customers for customer research for a potential new product? Like, you're not in business yet in a foreign industry. Right? Yeah. And that's the thing where it is really difficult because so many of us builders in the SaaS industry, that's why so many SaaS people try to build SaaS for other SaaS. That's our people we want to sell to our friends. But the reality is most successful businesses find success because they go sell to the local paint companies or the insurance agents or the dentists. [00:37:25] Speaker A: Yeah, but it's really hard to know how to get them if you don't have that experience. [00:37:30] Speaker B: The way that you're describing it makes a lot of sense how you can find this criteria. And then when you have that firepower, you can run ad campaigns and start to literally test marketing channels. Because it's like you're testing marketing channels and talking to first customers and research at the same time. Lately, going back to what I was talking about earlier with how I'm wandering and looking for direction on where to maybe plant some seeds for some future investment in audience or target customers or markets. And one thought has been, to be clear, we're on very different tracks. I'm not rapidly trying to chase after a new product idea right now, but just trying to spend that last third of my time poking around exploring one thought has been, this could be an interesting use case for podcasts. Like, to start a brand new niche podcast as a way to not grow an audience. It's just a way to get into conversations with a target customer in a target industry that is foreign from you. So I'm starting to think about an area that I'm very interested in. I have some personal interest in it, but I've never been connected to it professionally in any way. And to go full on, it would be a super hard pivot to do. But to start to learn about who's who in this industry, what are the processes, what are the different business types, who's spending money, where with who, who's connected to who, who's doing well, where are the niches within the niches? Like, there's so much of that, but when you're talking about a different industry that you are personally not necessarily connected to, if you could just talk to people who know a thing or two about that industry, who are really in it, you learn fast. But it's so hard to just cold call and get into these deep conversations because, again, they're a foreign industry. You're not necessarily connected to them. But having a podcast could be a way to, you know, invite well connected people to promote themselves on a podcast. Like, invite, just do an interview show where, like, you're interviewing them. Publish it. It's content, fine, but it's mainly you're learning, like, just. Just be curious and do an interview show and publish it. And it's like a win win. And it's a way to learn and step into the door. Put your foot into a door of a. Of another industry, and you never know what you might find in there, you know? But that's like, that's like the. To me, that that's like a move that a bootstrapper can do, you know, if you think that, like. Cause I've. I've literally heard this from, like, listeners of this show. Like, like, I feel so limited because I don't know anybody in any other industries. I don't know any other problems to solve. Even though I know how to build software products. Like, what do I do? I'm stuck, like, there. Like, just invite people to interviews and interview them. And if it has to be a public podcast, like, just do that, you know? Yeah. [00:41:00] Speaker A: Yeah, I think that would be incredibly effective. I mean, the way I learn about a new industry is I listen to a few podcasts in that industry, and even just from that, you'll see some guests on multiple shows, and then you hear the way the host talk. I mean, it is an accelerated way to learn about an industry. Yeah, I got into franchises recently, and I, like, start listen to, like, the Brian Beers podcast and the Wolf of franchising. You listen to ten episodes between those two. Like, you are up to speed a lot. [00:41:29] Speaker B: I'm exactly the same way. I, you know, whenever I'm interested in an industry, I start to consume all the podcasts. And lately it's been more YouTube channels than anything else. And. And then as I start to look at all these YouTube channels, I'm like, this guy's got, like, 15,000 subscribers. This one's got 50,000 subscribers. This one's got three hundred fifty k. And I'm thinking, like, you know what? I'm a nobody. I'm not connected to anyone in that industry. But I bet if I reached out to this person with 350,000 subscribers, I bet that they would accept an invitation to be interviewed on, on my podcast. Right? [00:42:10] Speaker A: And then you might get introduced to that audience. [00:42:12] Speaker B: And now I have an hour long sit down conversation with this person and, you know, developing a relationship that could lead to connections to something else and do that 20 times. Do that 50 episodes over the course of a year. All of a sudden, you are. Now you're in the industry. Now you have into this industry with all sorts of learnings, you know, so that's, that's, you know, getting back to that thing where it's like, what am I investing my, my spare time and energy into? That could be something I, you know, I don't want to get too far into what I'm thinking there, but, like, that's, that's like an area of exploration that I'm thinking. [00:42:51] Speaker A: But, but that is a. [00:42:53] Speaker B: Listeners could use something like that, you know? Right. Yeah. [00:42:58] Speaker A: Speaking of, like, audience and outreach and, you know, basically just being found, one of the things that I have been thinking a lot about is SEO. [00:43:09] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:43:10] Speaker A: I don't know SEO. In the past, I have been an SEO skeptic. I think partly because I did know what I was talking about. Still don't. And partly because in e commerce, the SEO is, I mean, it's all tied up. There is not much room. You're not going to come out with better content. So I just didn't see SEO as a real channel for our stuff in the ecommerce world. Now, my hope around what we're doing is in much the same way that a lot of people benefited from search volume for AI content, right? AI content generation exploded over the last two, three years, and people who were in that category benefited tremendously. And AI voice feels very primitive right now, and it's actually not that good. And you haven't, you haven't seen very public displays. You haven't, you see Siri a little bit, but, like, it hasn't had a breakthrough moment, right? So I think the search volume is gonna explode. And so I'm looking at SEO like, oh, that I should actually invest from the very, very beginning, and that's where it ends for me. I don't know what to do with that. [00:44:22] Speaker B: Yeah, yeah. I go back and forth on SEO. I think it's very case by case, just like most channels are. But I would definitely see SEO traffic and leads for clarity flow that continue to flow in to this day. But I also have, I've reached a plateau with it, and that could just be a limit of my skill or experience with it. But my challenge with it is I could easily see how traditional SEO maybe already is, but will become less and less important as we go forward. There are so many different factors in that. There's literally AI. You look at the front page of Google now, the top half of it is Google's own AI, followed by the other. The other half is Google's ads. And then there might be one or two organic things down there, and even those are so SEO optimized that they're practically ads themselves. [00:45:28] Speaker A: That's right. [00:45:29] Speaker B: That seems like every Google search. Yet at the same time, I know that I still get customers from Google. So it happens. I still think that the, the low hanging fruit for almost any software business is still really worth putting in place, but these things run out quickly. So I'm talking about, like, the alternative to competitor pages. Yes. Or the comparing popular competitor one to competitor two compared to your tool. Like, those posts sort of still actually work, at least in my experience. But then there's only, like, a limited number of those that actually play well for any given tool. And then, and then those get super competitive on. You know, I do really question the whole backlinks thing. I think it's still a factor to a certain extent, but I'm guessing it's less than it used to be. I really don't know. I don't know. [00:46:30] Speaker A: I'm gonna reach out to a few people in, in that area that I trust and, and kind of see if I can come up with a plan that makes sense in terms of investment, but, yeah, I don't want to be caught six months from today saying, oh, man, I'm missing out on a ton of opportunity because, because we didn't invest. [00:46:48] Speaker B: I think for any new startup, for any new product, especially a new domain, new brand, like, yeah, you definitely got to do some work to put yourself on the map. It's a question of, like, is that going to be like our number one channel? I don't know, but, like, you shouldn't ignore it. Like, you should definitely do the basics, put the basic pages in place, optimize. Like, yeah, yeah. Because I think there's another thing about that whole SEO question, and that's just our behavior as people on the Internet. I think more and more this is probably especially the case with us tech people, but it's, but it's probably expanding out into the mainstream, which is like, like I said, like people are less interested in purely just trusting Google to give them the answer and they're more interested in trusting their communities, their friends. Like, when you have a question, you're much more likely to go to your friends or people that you know for advice. And then maybe a layer beyond that is like going to places like Reddit or Twitter or where you might not know the people responding, but you know that they are people. You know? Like lately when I, when I google for stuff, I noticed myself heavily prioritizing results from Reddit because I just know that those are humans. [00:48:12] Speaker A: Yeah. There's a debate going on there between people. [00:48:15] Speaker B: Yeah. Of all the links on the page, on the Google search results page, if I'm googling a physical health thing, oh, I've got back pains. What should I do about these back pains? Am I going to trust the ads for these medical companies or the Super SEO Optimized blog posts or the 50 posts on Reddit of people who have actually had back pain and here's how they dealt with it. [00:48:40] Speaker A: Yeah. It's like an indirect admission that Commercial Incentive skews the actual answer. So you are cutting through and saying, who has the least Commercial Incentive to give me an answer here? And that's actually Reddit. [00:48:54] Speaker B: YEP. YEP. Cool. [00:48:56] Speaker A: Well, before we go, I just want, I want to mention one thing that really helped me this week. Once we got a domain and a name, I went to our DeSigners and I said, okay, you know, very EXcIting. We got our name. Let's go. And what they said to me was, GReat. We would like to start with a Branding Exercise. So I rolled my eyes and said, okay. ANd it actually turned out to be extremely helpful. We spent an hour on it and what it was, they used FigMA, but it doesn't matter. [00:49:24] Speaker B: It's just like, are these your teammates or did you work with an agency or what is. [00:49:29] Speaker A: So we've been working with these two freelancers for three years. So we just, you know, they're in our slack. They're like part of our team. I mean, I give them equity, the whole deal. They're like, they're freelancers, but they're, they're awesome and they do a lot for us. [00:49:43] Speaker B: Cool. [00:49:44] Speaker A: But they like to maintain their freedom and independence and we like it that way. Also, it's kind of worked out really nicely to have freelancers, contractors with an hourly rate and everyone's happy. [00:49:54] Speaker B: Love it. [00:49:55] Speaker A: So it's 123-4567 columns and we just filled in information for each column. Column number one is the company philosophy and values. Column number two is product goals. So what's the product trying to do? Third column is problem solved. What problems does it actually solve for the end customer? Fourth column is target audience. Who are you going after? The next one is the personality. Like, of the brand, of the US, our product's personality. And then there was one called brand attributes, and that was like a scale. So between feminine and masculine, where are you leaning? All the way feminine? In the middle or toward masculine. So we had like feminine, masculine, simple, complex, muted, bright, innovative, traditional, approachable, authoritative, serious, cool, commonplace, luxury, contemporary, classic, orthodox, unorthodox, and then safe and dangerous. And that just kind of forces you to make these little decisions around the personality and the brand and the positioning. And then finally the last column was competitors and differentiation and just being forced to write stuff out for each of those columns, like brought out what we're actually what we want out of the company and the brand and the positioning and who it's for. Really, really helpful. [00:51:23] Speaker B: Yeah, super interesting. Are they? So there, your team is running with that for doing what? Like designing the first version of the site? [00:51:33] Speaker A: Yeah, the brand, website, colors, personality, how modern versus not modern. [00:51:37] Speaker B: Right. [00:51:38] Speaker A: If it's, if it's AI domain, selling to developers, you want to look at like linear. [00:51:44] Speaker B: Right. [00:51:45] Speaker A: Different website entirely. If you're selling to h vac companies, you don't want that type of a design in sight. [00:51:51] Speaker B: Yep. [00:51:52] Speaker A: So it just gives them a foundation to make decisions on what should the logo look like? What are the colors we're going to use, how fancy or not are we going to get with animations? How clear should the text be versus modern? Just all these decisions, at least, are all flowing out of the same set of facts. [00:52:11] Speaker B: Yeah. Interesting. I do feel like there's, and this is. I think that there's, like, I think that that seems really helpful, but a lot of it is, like, premature. Like, it's a good, it's a good starting point, but, like, a lot of, like, a lot of that is going to evolve as you go, as you go forward, as you talk to a lot of customers, as your team grows into this. Yes. [00:52:38] Speaker A: A lot of it I was kind of confronting for the first time while on the call. Right. It's the beginning of these decisions that get refined over time, but it did force some answers. [00:52:52] Speaker B: Interesting. [00:52:53] Speaker A: Yeah, a lot of it. I think next week, what we can talk about is the debates we have internally around the product and how many assumptions to make on what people want and what to put in the admin and what features are basic versus what should we wait for user feedback? [00:53:10] Speaker B: Yeah. I feel like my instinct would just be to create landing pages of a product that exists and put that, maybe multiple versions of that and show this, put it out there. [00:53:25] Speaker A: Hopefully by next week we have something up on the web and I can share the domain. [00:53:29] Speaker B: Super interesting, man. All right, brother. [00:53:32] Speaker A: All right, Friday, it's beautiful. It's sunny out. Enjoy the weekend with the fam. [00:53:37] Speaker B: Yes, sir. You too. All right. See y'all later, folks.

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