The Lucky Titan

Frictionless ROI With Rand Fishkin

January 12, 2021 Josh Tapp
The Lucky Titan
Frictionless ROI With Rand Fishkin
Chapters
The Lucky Titan
Frictionless ROI With Rand Fishkin
Jan 12, 2021
Josh Tapp

Rand Fishkin is the cofounder and CEO of SparkToro. He’s dedicated his professional life to helping people do better marketing through his blogging, videos, speaking, and his book, Lost and Founder. When Rand’s not working, he’s most likely to be in the company of his partner in marriage and (mostly petty) crime, author Geraldine DeRuiter. If you feed him great pasta or great whisky, he’ll give you the cheat code to rank #1 on Google.

 https://sparktoro.com


Show Notes Transcript

Rand Fishkin is the cofounder and CEO of SparkToro. He’s dedicated his professional life to helping people do better marketing through his blogging, videos, speaking, and his book, Lost and Founder. When Rand’s not working, he’s most likely to be in the company of his partner in marriage and (mostly petty) crime, author Geraldine DeRuiter. If you feed him great pasta or great whisky, he’ll give you the cheat code to rank #1 on Google.

 https://sparktoro.com


Josh: what is up everybody, Josh Tapp here again and welcome back to the lucky Titan podcast and today we are here with Rand Fishkin and if you haven’t heard of him I’d be really surprised I mean this guy create one of the most powerful softwares in the internet if you are in the digital marketing space you’ve heard of SEO Moz and on top of that he’s written the best-selling book now is it not lost and founder?

Rand: (laugh) I don’t know about best-selling, but it done reasonably well. 

Josh: it’s an amazing book, go check out that book for sure but he’s also the founder of SparkToro which honestly, I’ve never heard of it and I checked it out I am Totally going to buy this software, so I am excited about that, but you know Rand, say what’s up to everybody first and let’s hop in to the interview man 

Rand: Sure, sounds good

Josh: so, my first question for Rou rand is you know you’ve started one really good software company it’s exceeded and ended up handling off to your COO but then you decided to start a second software company, is there a reason you decide to do a second SAS company, did you love it that much 

Rand: yea Ahm so I think there are might have been several errors in your initial phrase, in your question there Josh, so the company is now called as SAS MOZ hasn’t been for 10-11 years there’s a software company called MOZ which yea a lot of people have heard of it traffic it was historically a blog called SEO Moz and then a consulting business for a while and then became a software company Moz I raised venture capital for that business just now is never like after raising venture capital of course it’s not your company anymore (1:49)

Josh: not your baby (1:50)

Rand: yea yea, exactly, I do retain in about 17 or 18% of the stock but I don’t once I stepped down CEO I think I probably did not realize this or internalize very well at that time I no longer have the ability to influence the direction of the company very much despite technically being chairman of the board just the way venture back business is work and I was not and still has not a success right so success in venture terms or personal terms would be there’s some sort of liquidity event or exit, write it, it sells it goes public or you know in venture world it’s fine if the company just goes way and dies but Moz is very funny like  stuck in the middle sort of you know 45 - 50 million dollars a year revenue company but growing in a very slow rate you know maybe 3-5% a year that kind of thing it’s profitable but profits don’t help, you can’t do anything with profits and a venture back business because of the structure so yea it’s a weird company it is definitely not categorize as success and to be honest I think if Moz has been a success Josh I am not sure I would have started another one I think I might have been you know been like 20 year career that work that well I am proud of what I built I am ready to do something else but that was not the case and SparkToro  is essentially by my hope is that I can structure it differently, built it differently learn from all the mistake I made over 20 years building Moz and create something even better (3:39)

Josh: yea absolutely one would you mind if I ask couple question about that because it’s really interesting because from a consumer stand point it seems like very well-known software and everything so what my question is having the venture back and you felt that way was kind of what like kill the project growth or (4:00)

Rand: it’s not that it killed growth it’s that it cuts off any opportunities other than a you know very, very large seller exit which require much, much more growth in order to the successful or nor to have a completion right let’s say you and I running a consulting business and maybe we’re frustrated because it’s stuck at 2 or 3 million dollars a year in revenue and it’s not growing but what we are taking home is salaries and every year we’ve got our profit we’re probably doing great right at Moz I had my salary but there is now profit distribution right you know Moz is a spin off I don’t know 4,5,6 million dollars in cash a year doesn’t matter that money just sort suits in bank and hopefully gets used to grow the business at a faster rate because until there’s an exit there’s no liquidity for folks I don’t want to complain right I had you know but a six figure salary I was doing great I was making almost as much as senior software worked at Microsoft or google which is a very nice salary but it was a I definitely would made a lot more money joining a big tech company and then doing that and for the first you know 10 years that I working in the business I make nothing you know sub 30 grand right (5:26)

Josh: right and I think that’s the founder story right so let me ask you this Rand I mean obviously like you say it wasn’t maybe the biggest success for you obviously company is doing pretty well but for your transition and now into SparkToro what’s kind have big change that you feel like hey like what are the changes you are going to make and make it a success (5:53)

Rand: yea let’s see I think the biggest thing on the structure side is how we’re funded so SparkToro did raised money, we raised 1.3 million to kind of validate and built out our software which took almost a year and a half, so I am very glad we did that but it is that 1.3 million comes from 36 kind of individual investors, many of them are owners of agencies or you know folks in the digital marketing space, so basically looked at the idea behind SparkToro and said that’s amazing, I want that to exist, I think you can do it Rand and they essentially own units of shares in LLC rather than C Corp which probably a lot of listeners who run an agency or run their own you know software business kind of thing kind of started as LLC’s it’s only really want to raise institution capital that you have to build they have to be C Corp kind of thing this also give us the ability to pay profits as dividends so you know if SparkToro never sells and we just you know we run it as a business that’s profitable for the long term we can pay out profits every year and once we pay back investor case united founders we get to participate participate in profit sharing as well so there’s yea there’s a lot of open opportunity to do different kind of thing as well this business versus that one on the, we can talk about the product and marketing and all kind of stuff too but that’s definitely a big on it (7:37)

Josh: yea and that was actually the a great question because you know I was thinking how you structurally how would you differentiate you know and a lot of people who’ve done a SAS company that they did with venture capital they’re like I never do that again (7:51)

Rand: yea not a smart move in my opinion I think that venture is a fine thing to do when you realize that your business maybe is has a high growth path trajectory you know a really decent shot in become a billion dollar unicorn then I think it you know it pays to maybe do what last seen or people like that have done and say oh we are already do an whatever nor a 50 million dollar in revenue and we’ve made plenty money on ourselves and now we just want to see if this ting can be you know what ever a  infinite space and I am excited about that so sure let’s raise 300 million dollar and each of the founders will take 50 million off the table and if the business dies like yea that’s fine I already got paid everybody is working got their salaries, their stock is worth something you know everybody can move on and if it became a huge success great that’s fine too but I think that unfortunately the reality as many start-ups as many early stage start-ups our bias into this foolish mindset and I say bias but it is intentionally bias right venture capitalist intentionally built a media eco system around Silicon Valley in the technology world to make you believe that you are nothing and you are not good enough and you’re not a real player unless you raised venture and there’s just that ton of small and big ways that they do that everything from an advance and invitations and socialization and press coverage in media I mean just look at the majority of use of the term life style business imagine insulting someone by saying you bum, you crappy bum you only work 49 hours a week you only take home your profits, you’re lazy, you’re nothing, you’re nobody if you real, you would take a lower salary raised a ton of money and 98x out of a 100 you go bankrupt that what real entrepreneur does, how you convince us to do that, it’s pretty impressive (10:06)

Josh: it’s shark tank dig that’s what it is (10:09)

Rand: Shark tank is so much more logical than venture capital, shark tank is such a  better deal no matter how crappy the deal is right if shark tank the Canadian one or is that the US one?(10:21)

Josh: I think they’re like global now

Rand: they’re global, oh okay I thought it was drag and stand the American, I don’t remember anyway but they you know they offer some I’ll give you 50grand for 20% if your company you know what’s amazing about that, that’s all you give them you give them that’s 20% of your company and then right if you want to be profitable you can be profitable if you grow in a huge rate wonderful if you grow to slow rate that’s fine too they’ll go less free stay in business and be able to pay them back, venture capital it is let me throw money on a hundred business 95,96 of them fail entirely the other 3 or 4 in 1 or 2 of those 3 or 4 will make up for the rest of it by become a billion dollar business and we venture capital will get rich on that and essentially built up much more worst world for it right coz what happen when you have an eco-system like that you can get monopolies  which of course inhibit innovation space as we’ve seen in plenty of places, when was the last time and new search engine had an any you know sort of attraction at all right, they contributed income and equality dramatically right so you get the buy for occasion of sort of wealthy people and anybody else which venture capital has done a much for and then make much for brittle economic foundation which economist worry about significantly with so much of the United States as wealth for example tied up and 5 or 6 big tank companies as bigger proportion as their husband since sort of the you know the dark ages of Robber Barron’s 1800, that’s highly concern right so I don’t know I don’t really understand I know a lot of venture capitalist I think they’re good people who is belief system is I don’t want to say but just color but like infected by the wealth it brings (12:20)

Josh: right it’s strange  it’s kind of - burn right I mean they are saying hey going to, I am going to make a lot of money and I don’t care what damages happen behind me, right (12:30) 

Rand: yea and it’s worse right because they sort of justify the damage right they have this like well look this is how the class works and look at how good for society something like Google wants or I mean there’s a lot of variable, I love it but you know they try and convince themselves that they are doing the right thing and I think it’s pretty obvious that they are not (12:59)

Josh: yea and I would agree with you I’m pretty stodge against DC Banking for the reason I mean I really think that the problem is I’ve seen what most companies have got that banking it completely limits them they have to focus on profits and they can’t focus on solving though solution like create true solutions to problems (13:22)

Rand: yea I mean the frustrating part for me is that you don’t get to focus on profits at all right I think profits it’s a reasonable proxy for you to build a market solution and people are happy with and then you’ve done a scalable way and survival way instead of focusing on profit if you raised venture you have to focus on raw growth and so you get these businesses who that are you know Uber is a great example it’s lost tens if not a hundreds of billions of dollars but investors keep backing it because they believe that one day they’ll be able to put drivers out of business right and sort of you know have mass layoffs and just autonomously drive the vehicles or we work right just disaster play fair enough I mean even something like Airbnb which I would be the most reasonable of the players in this space which has these all negative externalities around it (14:23)

Josh: that’s really interesting, I think is funny to watch that in companies and to see from the outside even I just had that with you you I’m the beginning of this interview right we have this perception is the consumer that something is so much better than it is but when you get really into the meet of the company it’s like it may not be as great as you think it is (14:44)

Rand: yea I mean look if moz is privately owned that would be a phenomenal business right just terrific right whatever it is do  50 million dollar a year growing slowly kicking off 10% plus sales in cash every year phenomenal business for someone to own phenomenal business to be a part of that has high margins and pays its people really well has great benefit it’s a good place to work you know has a good culture it’s got all those things right lot of happy customer what’s their complain about the only thing you complain about is if your venture investor you’ll look at it and God what’s its just freaking die or find to growth path already it’s just annoying that to sit on this board and have capital tied up in it and you know that’s very frustrating it’s of course pass a length of time you know raised its last round was that big round in 2012 I did so I guess it’s 8 years out but you know they are looking for that 10 year horizon and they have to get their money back to their LP’s (15:48)

Josh: right yea it’s really interesting it’s kind of funny sometimes you know really what, what happens with the money and done seeing you know really I guess the results like we talk about you’re charging and not looking back and seeing the you know the damage that you’ve done and the innovation you’ve kill like I guess for us right so you know obviously you know SparkToro is doing completely differently you said so you’ve got 36 investors who are key players and the digital space corrects that’s kind of how you’ve started up (16:23)

Rand: I mean, key players that as many of them are you know owners of agencies or people on my personal network from the digital marketing or tack and start up worlds a lot of former founders and entrepreneurs focus on run their own businesses some people who sold their companies that kind thing (16:42)

Josh: awesome I think it’s really interesting I think we’ve seen our company was definitely botch strap we’ve grown strictly through joint venture part partnership and scaling that way but I was always been intrigue by that you know I’m saying hey let’s bring in multiple players into this and you feel like that’s going to help with your branding strategies just having those people having the buy in (17:05)

Rand: no I don’t think so I doubt it to have any real impact on marketing at all I think there sort of false belief among still a lot of entrepreneur that you know pointing to we are investors saying like all these people are behind us so we must be good - I don’t think any buyer b2c, b2b I don’t think it matters I think maybe if you have an enterprise sale type of organization and you can sometimes get into introductions VA your investors and that can help but no I don’t - I don’t think that at branding at all (17:44)

Josh: interesting that’s good you’re contradicting a lot of believe patterns I have, I like it (17:49)

Rand: yea, yea if you are raising money from someone ‘coz you think they will somehow help your marketing or your branding throw that idea after window that will not help you at all I promise you, you know if you were to say like oh well I got I don’t know Google’s head of search to invest in my SEO company that must be a great time no it might get you couple of  press articles but doubtful that anyone in the field wants actually view more of you favorably but the head of soap at Dove invested in my new soap company, nope useless (18:23)

Josh: pointless, that is crazy, yea good to know well so let’s talk marketing strategy then with your company I mean obviously you know how to get a product out to know how to solve a real problem and for those who don’t know I mean SparkToro in my opinion for those who listen is like probably way for you to launch your dream 100 it goes out and scrapes the internet find the best places and that you should be advertising or connecting with or JV-ing with correct that was like everything that I saw from my 5 minute intro (18:57)

Rand: yea I mean the methodology is slightly different so where essentially was built a giant data base of people so across the internet built a giant data use of people and then looks at attributes of those people so I might say for example like if you want to reach whatever Yoga teachers in California so you type in Yoga teachers located in California and it will tell you here’s the podcast Yoga teachers in California who listed too and here’s the YouTube channels they subscribe to and here’s the website they visit and here’s the social accounts that they follow and here’s the percentages all that audience they follow each of those sources and so now you can built a marketing strategy that is data driven right you know you can reach yoga teachers by advertising on this podcast or by being a guest on this YouTube channel or by having yourself feature on this website because you know that 22% of Yoga teachers in California whether public social account follow that website or account or whatever it is so yea that’s the idea behind SparkToro (20:00)

Josh: Rand and really if you are listening to this it’s not blowing your mind you don’t understand Facebook Ads because (20:06)

Rand: yea yea I mean one of your big frustration right was like the Google and Facebook do Apple of advertising is infuriating as a marketer like it’s to frustrating to basically say oh if I want to reach my audience because it’s so difficult to figure out where I can do that I might as well just throw money at Google and Facebook and let them sorted out and so Casey and I with SparkToro is basically said hey, all these people are running this surveys and like how do you hear about us or what you pay attention to and you get these terrible answers in the survey take forever to get data and the quality is not there and the coverage isn’t there and there this survey bias in there let’s just crawl that data right is the essential it’s the equivalent of basically getting a list of your customers email address finding their home address learning lock picking breaking into their house stealing their phone get their code and browsing and looking at everything that they do on their phone right and that’s essentially what you are doing but in a legal public privacy compliance very friendly aggregated in a nice way that what’s SparkToro does (21:14)

Josh: see and it’s a beautiful tool because one of the Biggest problem I’ve always had with running ads in general in the digital space it is like test us just trust us just trust to going to find the right people and what kind of even knowing your targeting the people that I put into the targeting option right and they just trust the methodology does not apply here in my opinion (21:37)

Rand: and I had so much frustration to right with I think especially Instagram and Facebook and sort of Google display in YouTube is that the targeting has gotten lesson less specific lessen less easy to find exactly the audience you want and that intentional because what whose plat form want the way to make money is you beating against everybody else so if everybody you know ever little sector is going after it’s little niche the add prices remains pretty low but if everybody is competing for every body’s attention now the ad prices go up and up and up because there’s more advertisers and they can’t quite target their niche effectively so they have to pay more to reach more person they want to reach so you get this world essentially all of the profit margin and that comes from advertising goes to Google and Facebook which is why these are hundred billion dollar post companies and they suck all the life they suck all the extra opportunity all the net margin out of every space because what we all do right we say like well i make 5$ per you know visit on average and I guess I’ll pay Facebook 4.95$. Dope (22:56)

Josh: well and so the cool part about that tool is being able to say okay I mean you’re not running ads there right you’re finding hey (23:03)

Rand: we have no relationships with any of the whatever plat forms or websites or podcast or anything that you find through the product and that’s intentional right we didn’t want to build an ad form we want to build a research tool to help you go find those resources you might find podcast and say oh yea let’s look at their advertising rate let’s reach out to them or you might listen to podcast and like oh they don’t run ads let’s see if we can be a guess on their let’s see if one of their future guess would talk about us let’s build a relationship with someone and get into introduction to the host whatever it is right , there are numerous options that are not just advertising and in my opinion especially in b2b marketing and very specialize niche to b2c it pays far more I’m sure you know this josh to be editorially talk about editorially endorsed vs endorse exclusively by advertisement you paid for like if you and I here a paid sponsorship we can dismiss it very quickly but if someone we know like we can trust said hey this is really good thing and I wasn’t paid to tell you that that means something right (24:19)

Josh: yea 100% I mean the people who listen to this we talk so heavily and we focus heavily on the joint venture partnership to that reason because it’s like hey how do we find the way to actually get in front of the right people and the cool part for me the part that got me excited was looking at you tool I was like woah I just can have our team do that search basically eliminates our employee unfortunately but they can do through and build list in split second knowing exactly where these people at (24:51)

Rand: yea yea that’s you’ve describe the functionality exactly you do a search you see a list of folk you see select which ones you want add them to a list and then SparkToro we have partnership with The100.io which I think the world of  those guys they basically they’re in email data base so they have email for billions contacts for the web and so then you know all though this items that you put in there like oh I put the lucky titan podcast and it’s like yea here’s Josh’s email so now you can reach out to them and all that (25:23)

Josh: which a great tool and I think hand and hand that is actually really cool partnership because you’re kind of solving this thing problem in different ways (25:31) 

Rand: yea I mean The100.io is fantastic basically you know they’re very, very specializes but I think that I should really smart play to be very exclusively focus on essentially hey if you have a whatever website a domain social account and you send it to us we’ll send you back an email address associated with it whatever email address that we have great business model (25:53)

Josh: love that and honestly like I like to talk the application here because you know there’s so many different ways people we call it dream 100 but I mean there a thousand different thing finding your ideal customer finding your ideal partners or whatever right but really essentially and any business could be doing this saying okay what are the best plat forms to have advertise on because you have to guess any more I mean I didn’t usually search on here right it’s like hey 90% of the people who are yogis are listening to this podcast I mean that’s a guaranteed that, its guaranteed win when you go advertise in that podcast I mean that’s just beautiful (26:32)

Rand: I’ll tell you, you know what’s the funny thing josh is one of the biggest problems that casey that I’ve been having SparkToro business model is that and this is, I mean a wonderful problem in some ways but it’s a frustrating problem on the financial side is that for many, many folk the first 2 or 3 or 4 searches they do gives them so much value in such a long list of sort okay now I have a ton of you know marketing work to do I know exactly where to do it that was amazing you know that’s basically that would have been a 9 month contract to market research firm for 100000 bucks or whatever get the same data and so my problem is solved of so I can you know a lot of people sign up for a one month to 2 months and then they’re done you know they tell us like hey I love the product just I’m not doing anything with it anymore like I got to do all marketing now (27:30) 

Josh: what’s funny and I could say see that definitely being a problem that you over perform your way out of job but (27:37)

Rand: Yeah, Yea, which look that is I think that’s a beautiful thing I think if you over deliver and you provide a ton of value people will refer back to you right and my hope is over time hey someone will run you know run this search they’ll do their marketing work and the next year they’ll come back and you know pay for another month or something like that and so my hope is that lifetime value over 10 or 15 years is much greater than you know 1 month right I’ll be many, many months but it’s a long term play and so we have to I think figure out a good model for that or potentially think about things like should we instead be charging for packages of queries or people use and it’s a one-time fee and not a you know on going subscription for consultancy and agency the ongoing is subscription is obviously makes a lot of sense and that’s most of our I should say, most of our long term customers so probably about maybe 40-50 percent of our customers are consultant agency and there’s a tons of folks like oh I was helping someone in virology research ah I’m sorry virology logistics so they like help with the COVID vaccination distribution and the logistics of shipping that and all kind of stuff and you’re like yea I need the product for you know figuring out for the influential sources in different countries and yada, yada and you its great like super help them out the have a one-time need really it’s a project for them not an going need (29:14)

Josh: yeah, well and the funny thing is you’re going to find some other people like me I’ll buy it and forget to have it and 5 years later I am like oh wow (29:21)

Rand: we try to avoid that and pretty dumb but one of the weird thing that we do the a lot of people seen that actually really like is Josh we send an email it comes from me 3 days before your subscription due and it basically says like hey here’s this easy link to cancel right now if you’re not using your subscription we know that most software companies do not do this because it leads to higher cancellation rates but we don’t want you paying unless you are getting value (29:52)

Josh: love that 

Rand: so you know, we’d love you have you back whenever but here this email just to make sure and yea look we see we do see that 2 and 3 days before people subscription come due a lot of folks Clicks that link and do cancel it and kind of sucks for us short terms interns of revenue coz like you said A lot of people would forget and just keep subscribing but do I feel great about that? How would I go sleep at night well we build another 50 bucks out Josh like that’s not me (30:28) 

Josh: and I love that because my biggest belief in the SAS space is when you do figure out this tool anymore and you can’t find the way to cancel it’s like buried 3 levels deep right oh my gosh I’ don’t have an hour to cancel this 25$ a month subscription, you know (30:43)

Rand: I’ve had a New York time subscription for 4 years and I swear to you if there were an online cancellation if I didn’t have to call them to cancel it ‘coz you have to get on the phone right and it’s only open eastern hours right so like after 2 pm pacific or 1 pm pacific my time like they are close you have to call and cancel and I hate the phone so the New York Times has probably gotten you know an extra 300 bucks out me because there you go  (31:14)

Josh: animosity towards company right because (31:20)

Rand: I really do feel - I like a lot of their reporting, I love their cooking section but (sounds)  I should yea I should give my money to saveur or taste magazine or somebody else 31:35

Josh: somebody’s more worth targeting (31:36)

Rand: yes somebody’s got to be better than this (31:37)

Josh : was it that low of the subscription cost to you like it is even worth the time (31:42)

Rand: that’s the other problem like when your like well you know whatever I am paying 80$ a year so it’s less than 10 bucks a month how do I justify that yea (31:52)

Josh: and no phone calls requires (31:54)

Rand: it’s so embarrassing to say that it totally worth it I really should but the friction right I think this is one of those things that I love learning as a marketer about human behavior is I love learning is the friction exhibits or creates behavior and changes it like we think of ourselves as being logical well someone doesn’t want their subscription anymore though cancel it no what if you make it harder to cancel then far few people will cancel what if you make it easier to cancel and many more people will do it but it’s money and like people are logical rational actors and economics fear no they’re not no I guarantee they’re not — my favorite example on this is always website speed right like it’s so hard for me to imagine well I was about to spend 300$ buying some new tennis shoes right coz I Need new shoes and but then the website took .08 seconds longer to load and so I didn’t check out what kind of idiot is like I’ll sacrifice my feet for another 6 months and have bad 10 bad tennis shoes because the website took and 8 of a second longer to load and yet we can prove to ourselves that it’s true (33:21)

Josh: it’s sad but true (33:24)

Rand: so I mean that type of behavior right when you realize that I think you really start to understand  human behavior macro-levels and things like you know whatever political voting patterns or attitude towards vaccination or attitude about wear mask so whatever like all types of stuffs starts to make sense when you look at how nudgable human behavior is at scale through various small increments and of course as a marketer this huge important for how you change behavior right if you , if you can get mention on 5 podcast this month instead of 3 that extra - that extra nudge will mean way way more behavior change in your space because of somebody head about you or 3 times it’s much more impactful and they heard about you once so those kinds (34:18)

Josh: yea and I want to point that out again for people who miss that’s because that’s was major golden nuggets it’s if you remove the friction from the process you will get more sales it’s I mean your - If your headline is simpler you’re going to close for Sales if the speed of your page is faster you’ll get more sales I mean I’d laugh that 300$ shoe idea because I’ve done that exactly thing I’m like I see this product I told him I want to buy this but it takes 5 seconds and for the page level it’s a scam and I’m out 

Rand: and what’s crazy is it’s not our rational conscious thing right your brain doesn’t go 4 seconds legitimate 5 secs scam there non of that one sec is often not even noticeable to your conscious mind and yet it’s still impact and influence our behavior and yea so that’s these are really important things, I agree with you an frictional removal it’s a huge part of what you can do and also then you can find ways and many folks have right, I think the most successful companies have found ways to make on boarding very easy and cancellation higher friction Right if you feel some pain when you do that so for example  with SparkToro one of the things that we obviously have to do is to do more than just of this research tool which give you one of searches so one of the big things that we’re building for next year is like an ongoing track so you might say oh I want to track you know the audience of The Lucky Titan and I want to see what are they talking about every couple of weeks who did start following who did they stop following what new sources influencing them and what — what are the podcaster like on their radars that kind of thing and SparkToro can give you those ongoing update and then when you go to cancel your like oh I’m not going to get my update anymore you know that’s kind of sucks coz this products doing work for me in the background that I know I should probably be paying attention to you know what let’s leave it running and even they send me email (36:37)

Josh: yea and especially at  where an analytics like that I would completely agree with that a good plan,  man well and everybody who’s been listening to this you’ve been realizing that if you work in you process and look at The way you building your business there’s a lot of tiny tweaks that will remove that friction a whole interview is almost there in about that you know with the removing venture capitalist make sure that creates a lot of frictions right it’s removing the friction from your entire business process and that’s where you are going to start seeing just big wins (37:11)

Rand: I love this two on using agency and consultants you know one of the things josh that I found in my previous business was we used we have this bias you have to build your whole team and house and of course that create a ton of friction if you no longer need the activity done or if the person is under-performing or they’re not a match culturally or whatever you are having friction internally well I hire them I just can’t see my way to letting them go let’s work on it for another 6 months a year and then you find me let someone go you’re like oh I can read the sign of relief and they breath the sign of relief because I am not in this frustrating environment I found a job I like more they’re getting paid more right everything gets better for everybody at least in you know in high tech this is the demand so far exceed apply for talented people and so with SparkToro we have kept just two of us and so our friction in our business incredibly low because for you know for our designer we use consultant for our the accounting we have a like consultant and agency for our  marketing to help with our conversion rate optimization use to be agency to help with our, our direction we had consultant everybody is a consultant right they’re just buy time as do we need it and we don’t what we don’t its great we have a copywriter who did a bunch of work for us put together all case studies she’s phenomenal, she’s fast, she’s efficient, she’s great at it she doesn’t get bored right coz we're like a new client for terrific (38:53)

Josh: Yeah. 

Rand: I think businesses should especially early stage entrepreneurs who are trained I don't know why we're train this way but we are trained not to use consultant and agencies and I thought I think that’s the most foolish thing in the world we have so much more I would say success as part of SparkToro for paying people  a lot more per hour but getting way more in value you know whatever we pay a conversion rate optimization agency I don’t remember exactly but something around 30,000$ which sounds expensive until you realize, if we were to hire a full time conversion rate optimization focus marketer that be hundred grand year plus benefits which in the United States are you know another 35 - 40 grand on top of that yea you know that way you know five times the cost and would they be as good as agency (39:52)

Josh: right good point out too, because 90% of the time a collage grad knows nothing compared to an agency - coz the agency (40:01)

Rand: even if that person had experience in their past and was quite talented the thing about an agency is they are seeing trends you know they are seeing 10 software and service companies this month who are encountering all the same challenges so they are solving that problem over and over again and so when they give you an hour of their time the expertise is inform by the current situations and so much better than a full time person who can only focus on your business right, they only have your one problem as their case study as example and maybe whatever they did before (40:40)

Josh: right see and I love that because there's so many ways to gain that ROI on any project you are doing and in business you are doing with the right people the right place right the bus and seat its concept right at the right people on the right seat and bus and you’ll all it will go well so you know Rand we (41:02)

Rand: that’s like my intention my big learning from one of my big learning with SparkToro is they don’t have to be on your bus as long as you are all going to same direction they can be you know whatever it is - yea a writer for just a few hour and you're still going to get great value (41:22)

Josh: yea love that well Rand you know we're coming up to the end in the interview here so I want to ask you one final question first of before I ask that question everybody, Rand doesn’t want to do a hard promotion but I am a hard promote you to everybody - you've wrote a book called Lost and Founder and it is all about this stuff so make sure you go hop in and read that book there also and audio version is there is there not? (41:4d)

Rand: yea there is I record it (41:47)

Josh: there you go, you can go audio version coz obviously and audio person if you are listening to this show but Rand the one thing i want to ask you is if you could leave one final parting piece of our guidance for our audience saying hey if you got one thing out this interview what would that be (42:03)

Rand: oh gosh so I think over last half hour Josh you and I have talk a lot of pre-existing common wisdom set of beliefs that are held almost like religious doctrine in the start-up in technology world and I would urge folks when they see that doctrine of you know hire people on you team don’t use consultant agencies or if you want to build a start-up you've got to raise venture capital or if you want to raise money, venture is the only option because people aren’t willing to put money into LLC  or if you want to build a software and services business you need to trick people in to subscribe being long term, you can’t you now be friendly enough front with them all of those things, we’ve proven today are wrong you can built business with all of those things being your opposite of the commonly I believe and I think when we reflect on the you should also reflect on the other idea that you might hold as sacred or invaluable in the market and in your own belief structure and ask yourself whether it pays to be more progressive and to think about different options and enough future imagine a future, imagine a different way of doing things that does not at here to those norms could be that by doing so you will built something truly exciting and extraordinary (43:36)