#799 – Foundr’s Nathan Chan On Thinking Big & Problem Solving/
- July 23, 2020
Nathan Chan – CEO of Foundr Magazine
Nathan Chan is the CEO of Foundr Magazine, a media and educational brand focused on providing the go-to resources for aspiring entrepreneurs. Through Foundr, Nathan connects some of the most successful entrepreneurs, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Mark Cuban, Tim Ferriss and many more with people around the world.
On today’s episode of The Daily Talk Show, we discuss:
– Magazines and the media industry
– The potential of a brand
– Team morale and the new Foundr office
– Mental health and mindset
– What can be controlled in a business
– Communicating vision
– Ownership and failure
– Mentors and coaches
– Thinking big
– What moves the needle
– Solving the problem
– Selling systems
– The transition to making cash
Nathan on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nathanchan
Foundr Magazine: https://foundr.com/
Email us: email@example.com
Send us mail: PO BOX 400, Abbotsford VIC 3067
The Daily Talk Show is an Australian talk show and daily podcast by Tommy Jackett and Josh Janssen. Tommy and Josh chat about life, creativity, business, and relationships — big questions and banter. Regularly visited by guests and gronks! If you watch the show or listen to the podcast, you’re part of the Gronk Squad.
This podcast is produced by BIG MEDIA COMPANY. Find out more at https://bigmediacompany.com/
It's the daily Talk Show Episode 799.
Special Guest Nathan Chan from founder joining us. Welcome to the show, buddy.
Thanks so much for having me guys. It's a pleasure to be here. Shame I couldn't join you in the studios just down the road. I'm in Richmond. And yeah, can't move to different suburbs. Can we?
Well, we had it scheduled for an in person, which we always liked. But you know, the world's turned upside down. How's it How is it over your side of the world man as in same place, but just your side of the will?
Yeah, yeah, it's fine. Just wait weekends, and weekdays blend together and just work around the clock. It's crazy.
Founder found a magazine. How much do you actually connect with a magazine bit? And when you see things like what's happened with Bauer media, where it Where do you sort of Go to in your head.
So I saw that.
Well, look, I think I think magazines media industry, it's an industry that has suffered a lot. And it's only you know, it's only to be expected, right? Like during times like this. When you rely on one source of income or one main source of income for any business, it's going to be struggle town, I think like, especially advertising, where it's kind of like a discretionary spin for a lot of companies. It's not something that if you took it away, you know, from those companies, they're gonna be like hurting like Facebook ads is a different thing. You know, if you take Facebook away, like Facebook ads away from our company will be hurting a lot. So I think, you know, advertising media content. There's not many companies out there in the media or publishing space that really, you know, a building sustainable business models. So yeah, it's been interesting. But no, it doesn't doesn't look where we're just like, where I'm at the magazine is a small part of our business to answer your question. It's the face of the business. But we have many other things going on. And I see the founder brand being so much more than just a magazine, or online courses, or books or what, like all the different forms of media or content that we produce.
When you started out, was it where it is today? How happy was that in your mind when you began? Or has it's been a case of getting started and realising the potential of where you can take a brand lock founder.
So when I started, I had no ID that it would be where it is now and I had no idea that it would kind of morph and like, you know, we would change things and we'd have other mediums and all sorts of things. I just started it as a magazine as a passion hobby project. Like it's kind of embarrassing that I started an entrepreneurial magazine. I actually didn't know anything about business or startups myself, like literally hardly anything. I had no idea what I was doing it was a joke, and I just kind of worked it out along the way. Do you
think that that served you? And what do you wish that you actually did not?
Like retrospect one of these like incredible things, right. But it served me a lot, because I've approached it from just a lateral thinking standpoint. So you know, you talk about advertising we've never ever really relied on advertising because like, I just looked at it and we tried it. We tried it on even for the founder podcast, I tried it on and for the amount of money you make, it's it's pretty bad. Like it's really shocking. We tried it on for like the magazine, it's really bad. And it's a lot of work. So I've always approached it that way, just what makes sense for us and and just literally not knowing anything, not having any experience in this stuff, and it has kind of served me. But at the same time, you know, I think I could have done things a lot faster I could be, you know, further along on the journey if I knew what I was doing, or if I actually spoke to people knew what I was doing and learned a lot of hard lessons, you know,
I think probably a consistent trait across entrepreneurs is impatience or, you know, feeling unsettled, that they're not where they want to be. Is that something you've had to battle with?
Yeah. And I think most of the time the problem with that is comparing yourself to others. And then also, the the idea that it's never enough. Like the goalposts are always changing. Like, you speak like I speak to like, all these incredible founders all day every day like doing is multi billionaires, like insanely smart people. sanely successful people, and you ask them, like, Is it ever enough? And what do you think they'll tell you like? never ends.
It's sort of depressing. So how do you how do you look at it? How do you how do you switch up the mindset so you can actually, you know, live a life that's not so painful.
Well, the journey is the reward. And it's all about the ride. It's always trying to be present, and just having fun along the way, because he's never enough and actually accepting that is actually quite freeing. And it's fun to like chase towards things and accomplish incredible things. And it's like for Austin and founda, as like as an own travel business. But like the business itself, being an entrepreneurial venture, it's really rewarding. You know, the amount of people that we help and serve and it's really cool to create something that helps a lot of people at scale or facilitates the growth. So I think when you look at it from that perspective, it's not it's not depressing, it's not daunting, it's not a negative thing just is
what it is. I saw around in January content as you started to work on your new office, obviously COVID hits. What does that do to team morale and what you had planned for the year?
Yeah, that was crazy. So yeah, we've got this new office 500 square metres in chapels, just off chapel Street, like put a studio in there decked it out, like spent a lot of money. And, literally, we got to spend one day in there to work when and then and then covert heat. And that one day was our strategy day working out what the fuck we're going to do.
And so what I like because Tommy and I have spoken about this shit a lot where it's like, obviously, there's the advice from the government, but then there's all these other decisions that you just need to make as a business. Did you feel in that moment you were clear on what to do? Were you sort of married to the office? How did you resolve those bigger conversations?
I think when times like this happen, you need to look towards, you know, your support system and have and the people in your corner and you need to look at history, like, you know, there's a thing called an economic clock and it happens, you know, every seven to 10 live in 12 weeks, whatever it is. And you you need to find out what companies did or what people did and how they handled times like this. So that was my go to when it comes into caught into context for the office. You know, we you know, like, I'm still doing updates on it and bits and pieces. Fortunately, founder as a business we've been okay. And we're, you know, I'm really grateful that we haven't been hit as hard as as local businesses. Most of our audiences in the United States were purely online play. There's no there's no really in person play. So yeah. We're doing okay, so, yeah, look, everyone's working from home. We've been a fairly remote company anyways, like, we've got around 1213 people in Melbourne and we're hiring more at the moment. And then everyone else is scattered around the world. We've got office in New York. So like we have like, I think like 1520 people remotely anyway, so so for us to work remotely like we've had it easy compared to most businesses to be honest, man, like, yeah.
When this kind of stuff happens, and you're in a planning meeting, or strategy meeting for a very unknown future. How do you handle it as an individual what's what's your mental state in those moments? What do you think comes out? does it bring the best out of you?
Yeah, so I remember when COVID hit and you know, fana took a hit and it was really really scary. Cold one, my good mates Rory. He runs a company called hampus with bought and he was just like, Because he's had business much longer than me, because this is my first business for context founders, my first business been gone for about seven years. And I've never taken any hits before really, we've been pretty lucky like, you know, being sued by one of the biggest business magazines in the States when we first opened, like had other had to like other you know, trials and tribulations, but nothing like this where it's like scary and you don't know what's going to happen to the world. And I remember I called him up, and we just chatted for like, two, three hours because he's been through all these kind of things. And he said, Man, all you can do is just control the controllables because like, I was watching the news and all this kind of stuff, and like, I found that actually quite bad for my mindset. It was like really, really, really just fucking with my head and I started like, I was like, you know, I'm cutting all that shit out. And I was like, I'm just trying to control what I can control. And then I work with like a mentor, Where am I now one of my coaches as well and like we just come up with the plan and then we just stick To the plan and we you know, present that to the team and we work out with the team in that strategic meeting, like we get buy in and get input. And then that that was the one day that we were all in the office and then we came up with that plan and then we executed and then we've thankfully been okay, but after that, it was like a real rise like it was like a call to action, my call to the adventure. So for me, I was working 18 hour days working around the clock said to my fiance, Emily like I just got it like just just make sure we're okay, so I just went crazy and like worked. We're probably some of the hottest have worked in a long time. And now we are okay. And, and a lot of businesses are on the route, you know, recovery, thankfully and yeah, mindset wise. I found it quite exhilarating. Which is kind of weird, but yeah, just that grind. It reminded me of all days founder go. I just Why can I stop working all day every day, and then going to sleep then working all day every day. Like that was some of the funnest times, believe it or not, when I first started founder back in my parents basement, like it was just the best luck, it was actually really fun, like, just working, because I just love what I do so much for me. I think people find that surprising. They're like, you know, do you want to sell found? Or like, you know, what's your exit strategy? You're like, you know, they think like, we just want to make less money. Yeah, we want to grow and get like, you know, this rewards behind all that. But for me, I just want to do work that I'm passionate about. And I think you never work a day in your life. If you love what you do. And that's like the ethos of the brand. That's the ethos of everyone we employ. That's the ethos of, you know, like, what we're trying to do. It's like really help people, you know, start and grow businesses. And you know, ideally, it's a business that you love, and I think yeah, that's, that's, that's what my mindset was like, it's Yeah, I rambled. Sorry,
what was the controllables?
The amount of people that sign up to one of our master classes, the amount of people that come to our like, you know, that we can kind of engage with, in some way shape or form, the amount of stuff that we hire or have, you know, all those kinds of things, what we're focusing on, I think that's a key thing, right? Like when you look at businesses, a lot of the time, it's about, like businesses that are growing. It's like the ones that are focused. So we just focused on more higher profit products, like just just all the things that I can control, not the external things coming at me, like, you know, I remember I was even getting on the phone speaking to prospects and we never do any of that stuff. I was getting on the phone and speaking to people in like, you know, like, just hearing like how scared people are like, you know, but there's Always like in any business or any market, even down market is that you know, there's ways to grow. And this is incredible book that I read, which I highly recommend for anyone that has a business called great by choice by Jim Collins. And he studies old companies, all the successful companies that grew during a recession. And there's a lot of incredible principles in that book that we've been trying to follow, which we are following. It's been game changing for us. But yeah, those are the controllables. Like, what content we want to put out what products we want to launch, what products we want to focus on pushing, you know how much ads we want, I can watch you want to spend an attitude. We want to hire who you want to let go. Like all that kind of stuff.
You speak to a lot of, I guess you could say successful, definitely successful from a metric standpoint, individuals from all across the world. Have you found from talking to these people that it's clouded what you think of success? Because I feel like these successful people, they're contagious. You like oh, wow, look at what they've got a look at what they've created. Have you had to steer it back to now? This is what Nathan wants this is what founder is after versus other people's version of success bleeding into it?
I think just depends. It depends, like
I think one thing I definitely do know is majority of the people that we speak to are extremely humble. So they're not as arrogant or all these different things that someone might think of someone that's achieved a certain amount of success. And I think that that's part of it, like for a lot of people is, yeah, just that humility. But then, you know, there's some people that have an agenda, which, you know, a lot of the time certain way, right like, you know, the reason that we're speaking to those people is because They're looking for press. So they want to talk about a certain thing. But yeah, look, there's one thing that I do find interesting that that you you guys might, but you guys speak to a lot of successful people so I like an interview like Seth Godin stuff is like, a lot of these people are all human beings and it's often that we put these people up on pedestals, but, you know, they all stand on the same, you know, rock, hard, solid ground, the old blade, like old, like, we're just human beings, right? And, you know, the thing that is different between them and perhaps us, or, you know, you know, everyday people is, is really that, you know, they had a great team and people behind them, they had, you know, just relentless just thirst and hunger and they just wanted it bad enough and they were lucky as well. Right. Some people great timing, you know, I didn't know four years ago that you know, when we start to get into some Causes thing that, you know, everyone was going to be at home and online education is just booming right now. Like I just did not write like this, you make your own luck. But at the same time Yeah, these these are people that have just been out for a long time man like, you know, to to build anything of true worth and significance it takes like seven to 10 years. And that's what I really love and respect what you guys are doing right? You've got that discipline sign of law, like you guys just go on every single day and it compounds like that's how we, you know, that's how we build a large scale Instagram account with like over 2 million folks like we posted every single day. Like the one day we didn't post because the Black Lives Matter tile actually destroyed us like we were losing followers, like over a month because we told Instagram that, you know, like we're not posting content anymore. So like consistency is where it's at.
How do you communicate your vision to a team
do it often Like, I think it has to come from within. And it has to come from a place of, I guess giving. I think that's really, really important. It can't be selfless. And I think it's got to be, you know, it's got to be a problem or something that you're really, really passionate about. And you've got to you got to be thinking big. But yeah, how do you I think you do it like when it matters or when it links back to why somebody should have done something or perhaps why it's not part of like, you know, getting us towards that vision. One thing that we do, founders, we have like a weekly strategic meeting, which is called a traffic light meeting, where we analyse what our goals for the quarter and what our goals for the year and how we're going to bring like a big long term vision Life. But I think it's, I don't know, it's a difficult question to ask like, how do you communicate your vision ci team? I think it's just something that you should speak about often I should speak about it more. And it's just yet when it feels like, you know, it's around the purpose, and the reason that we do the work we do. Did you think that with the with all COVID
it's fucking annoying that we always end up doing that Cova but it seems like it's such a massive thing in our life right now. communicating to the team around, we're moving to the office and the hopes and the dreams and speaking to a videographer and saying, so this is like, get ready for game day. This is when you're going to shine and pumping everyone up. How do you then have the conversation when so much of the narrative is built into something that can't be anymore? Do you have any thoughts or sort of mechanisms to be able to re communicate when there has been so What's your big shift?
Yeah. So, look, I think one thing that is important is during any hard times, or if you say something, like one of our values of founder is like, determined to deliver, and we do what we say we're going to do, because I think that's a good philosophy to have in life. Like I said, I'd be for this interview, I'm here, right? Like, and I think, you know, anytime you can't do something, or you know, something's changed, or like, you know, we're going to move into this whiz bang crazy office, and we can't just go to say hello to the elephant in the room. And, you know, like, you know, I've, like last year, we made some calls, we didn't have the growth we were looking for. And you know, you have to be prepared to show that vulnerability and say hello to the elephant in the room and say, You know what, guys, like I made some calls that didn't pay off and that's all me and I'll own it as a leader. I think that's all you can do, right? Just like just just talk Korn ship.
Is that would you say how you how you deal with failure? As in, you know, if you're a business owner, it's about what you do with it when it comes.
Yeah, so I think
I'm a big fan of like, like taking ownership of things and, you know, taking like responsibility for any outcome, even if it's out of your control, and just owning it. I think the sooner that you can do that, I know that might sound a little Savage. Like, I'm talking to business sense, right. Let's keep this in business context. I think, yeah, when you can do that, then you can just move on and learn from it. Right? Like, I'm just a really big fan of just like, keep moving. Take ownership, learn from it. What have I learned from it, make sure don't do it again. And just yeah, keep moving. When it To follow you there. I actually do try really hard to avoid failure. I know a lot of people say they shouldn't feel failure I actually do. And I think most people say they don't or stay active if they feel it's aligned to you, I think everyone have like, has a fear of failure at some in some way, shape or form. But one thing I always try and do in a massive on this is learning from people that have done it. Like, like, as an example, you guys want to build a big scale podcast and you want to know how to do that. Right? So you're tracking your downloads and stuff, right? Like, I would want to make sure I speak to like the, like, the biggest podcasters out there to make sure that that they've like, you know, any future problems that are my face, I can get that insight because then I can like you know, like, not have He's like five years old at the time. And I think having that guidance and having a good source of advice is so game changing when it comes to avoiding failures, and also tackling them if they happen to learn from them.
You mentioned mentor and you have a coach before. Is that something that you invest in men? And how often do you have these catch ups?
Hundred and 10%? So, so many people, they say like, Oh, yeah, I want to mentor. But then they expect someone to just donate their time for free when they probably they obviously have something you won't and it's obviously valuable the knowledge that they have. And it's going to take time and they would be losing something from giving you their time. So yeah, I happily invest in mentors. I have a coach who I spend a lot of money with every single month and I catch up with him every week. And he's somebody that's actually built a big business himself. Then I have not got many mentors that I speak to all the time I'm looking for another one a domain expertise mentor, he's built a large scale publishing business.
So you might like as in domain names.
portfolio. What do you want? I've got a few domain names. So
with your coach that you catch up with once a week, what is it? What is the session look like? And and what do you what is the thing that you think he does really well? That works for you?
Yeah, so I've found when it comes to mentorship, there's kind of two kinds, like if you let's just say, let's just say in anything, right, like, then let's just take business as the concept of business out of it, just anything if you want to, what what are we trying to do here we're trying to achieve some form of mastery or some form of a goal or both, right? So when it comes to coaching or mentorship for whatever that goal is, or whatever that business is, or Whatever, you know, like, mastery that you want to achieve, you've got to have someone that keeps you accountable. And you've got to have someone that keeps pushing you along and guiding you along the way. But then you've got to have someone so that so that's Steve, for me, Steve is my coach but also a mentor, but he's, I catch up with him every single week. And we look at our annual plan. Are we on track for our annual plan? Because we've broken it down by the quarter and then we look at our weekly plan as well.
Is that financials or what is the plan look like?
Everything, everything, team content, man, people, we serve the amount of students revenue like finances, everything, we break it all down. So we use this traffic light system. So what we do right is this is the way that I've always focused on growing founder is we have what is called a traffic light system.
This is from a book or something or like
a concept concept from a book called scaling up by Vern harnish. It's quite a common practice. And basically all the key functions of every department of founder, we, you know, we set goals for them. And then we have an overall revenue goal and target for student enrollments, impact, etc. And that's our annual target. And then we break it down by the quarter, and then we break it down by the week. So remember when I talked about like, how often do I communicate the founder vision and we check in of how we're tracking and all that kind of stuff? That was that weekly meeting. So when I catch up with Steve, every week, he's going through He's like, how's this going? how's this going? how's this going? How's this person performing? Oh, like, you know, and he's just coaching me like he even me car and leadership coaching. But then he's also kind of coaching me for problems and how to solve certain things. And you know, maybe this isn't jiving or like, you know, we've got a problem here or like, you know, where should we allocate, you know, funds or budget here, or what do we do to solve that? So, so that's what that one looks like. And then yeah, the other you know, so he keeps me accountable. And he's always pushing me. And he's teaching me how to be a great CEO. And that's one kind of coach or mentor. And then the other one is that I'm looking for and I have had before is someone that is domain specific. So Steve hasn't built a large scale online education company, he hasn't built a large scale media or publishing company. So I need to find someone that has.
And so when you started, you put two grand on a credit card you back yourself when it when it's just you. Risk is easy, because you die in your own sword. I guess when you have a team or you're working with a group risk can be seen differently. How do you navigate risk now that you have a team?
it's so funny you say that because I feel maybe it's because I'm here now, but I feel there's so much more risk doing what we do now. Versus is starting with two grand on the back of a credit card. Cuz like this is so much more on your shoulders right like we have multiple offices we got to upkeep
is massive yeah that's what I'm saying it's it's it's the the buy in that you have to the two grand is nothing right like but but if you I'm guessing as you go bigger than you're taking on okay six figure lease or saying I'm gonna put cash into this content or whatever it is where you haven't seen the results yet. So what is the process in identifying that? Yeah or no? Yeah. So we're just mitigating that risk for you.
Yeah, so I'm I'm so sorry to interrupt. So I, I hate risk. And I'm always looking to mitigate however I can. The two things that I think about. The first one is cash flow reserves. And, you know, Jim Collins talks about this in his book Right by choice, which he refers to as oxygen in the tank. So I'm always trying to maintain like a really healthy amount of cash flow reserves. Ideally, you want to have at least six months worth of operating expenses. So if your business wasn't bring in anything, you could survive for six months. That's the first thing. And then the second thing, which we're starting to work on more than ever now, founder is recurring revenue. I really like the idea of not signing somebody up or selling a product, and then that's it. That's where the facilitation of value creation just stops. I like the idea of, you know, having a subscription base, it's it yields predictability and having a big subscription base. So they're the two things that I'm doing to manage risk. And then, as well, it comes with confidence, like I remember like three four years ago. I was like, so scared to hire anyone. And then you just slowly build up and there's levels. Right. And yeah, like imagine having 100 people 1000 you know, that'd be scary.
The in terms of what what the scariness was, was it what you thought it was? Or was it just something that was appearing that might not have necessarily been real?
Now, I wasn't scared definitely wasn't scary as well as thought it was. And I think on the way I've always operated is I put myself in positions where I just don't have a choice but to just get it done. Like, we got to hire a lot of people this quarter. And it's kind of scary that thought of like how much that's gonna cost. But I don't really have a choice because we got so many things we got to do, like, you know, other people in the team are hurting, like, promise these resources. Gotta get down and then just work it out. And
you mentioned thinking big earlier. It's something I feel like you watch someone like Grant Cardone 10 x 10 x everything he probably touches. You know, cash is trash. You see a guy like that who is just thinking big? I mean what's
gonna be my interview with him? Yeah or did
he? Did he ask you how much money you had in the bank? Yeah that's right yeah What did you say cuz he did
this is a really good one right? We actually took that interview down
the reason is just because it's quite a controversial character and I don't really want I don't really wants to be associated with him but
is it true you flew on his jet or is that
isn't that funny like he was like are you know you got like if you got all this money in the bank, why don't you spend it and stuff and
you know, didn't covert he fucking glad we did.
But yeah, when it comes to thinking big Look, I have a lot of respect for like what grants done, you know, love him or hate him. He's a very successful guy. Like, yeah, like it was it was a crazy interview, it was a good laugh. I didn't expect him to kind of, you know, challenge me like that. But yeah, when it comes to thinking big, I found personally that that's an American thing. I'm not sure if you guys have picked that up, but he in America, people just think like 100 x bigger compared to Australia. And I'm fortunate that I get to speak to our people for America and stuff like that. And I speak to all these insanely successful founders and it rubs off on me. And that, I think, you know, when it comes to thinking big, I think it comes back to mindset as well. Like, let's just say as an example, somebody wants to, you know, build a company that's a million dollar company, right? You want to make a million dollars in revenue. In UI,
cash is trash, you got to put in property. But let's just say that right, let's say you want to hit that. I think, if you've already done that in your mind, and because inherently you're thinking big, like, if you've inherently already done that in your mind, then half the battle is won, maybe even 75% of the battle is won. Right? So that's why I'm a really big fan of thinking big and dreaming big and it's just kind of like a part of like entrepreneurial ethos. You look at someone like Elon Musk, like in the new office, we got these mural painted willows mural painted of, of a long, it's so awesome. And, you know, you just said such an exceptional person, like the way that he thinks like, you want to take people to Mars, right? Like,
he's thinking be so that's the epitome of thinking big, right? And so when it comes to Australia, maybe it's the size of the country. I mean, we have such a Small menuett scale of people here compared to the US, what do you think it is about why Australians might not think big, like the Americans do?
I think definitely tall poppy syndrome exists. Maybe not as much. I don't know, I don't I'm not saying I'm a victim of it by any means. But I think that definitely exists. And I think this concept of the American Dream is much more prominent in America versus Australia. And you have to remember as well, you look at places like you know, these clusters like Silicon Valley, that's where all the big successful companies are coming out of like big tech startups anyways, like mainly, and it's just like, it's just in the culture more, I think. I don't know why, but yeah, you know, yeah.
It feels like there's a bit of individualism there or like, there's definitely the celebration of The unique individual entrepreneur having spent so much too Yeah, definitely. I mean, spending so much time researching and speaking to founders, what have you worked out to be the bullshit that everyone's worrying about versus what actually makes the difference when it comes to having a successful company?
From from your everyday person side or like the
Yeah, I think like there's the obvious like, you hear people talking like they don't talk small business anymore. They talk startup and no longer a small business owner. There are found people looking at venture capitalists and angel investors and all of the stuff that I guess is a bit rah rah. And I think of that in some ways, like using one example would be Richard like rich Richard Branson example I remember saying to Tommy ages ago, when we started wearing I would like to consume the stories of those people who are making their first million or 2 million like the, the pipe dream is great for a an overarching mindset shift. But to actually, I feel like for us to be successful, it's like, you need to be working out how to make $1 then you know, $10, then $100. What are those bits? Do you think when people are getting started? That for one, they get distracted by and to the things you think they should actually be focusing on?
Yeah, so look, there's no doubt about it, that entrepreneurship is the new call for like, doing a side hustle or something on the side or wanting to start a business is the new call. And I think a lot of people get caught up in that. And I think a lot of people get obsessed with the idea and not the problem.
did you ever think that you got there? Like, is it easy to, especially day to day being you know, have you had to check yourself to make sure that you don't buy into the rarer?
Yeah, of course. Yeah. Like when people are telling you all day every day like, you know how good your company is how big it is like FRC growing and all that kind of stuff. Like it's really hot. Like you start to believe that trash like you go to really try and you know, so I, you know, my mom's really good keeping me humble and stuff or trying to and like, yeah, stuff like that. It's really important. But yeah, I think coming back to it, man, I think a lot of the time. I think it's about the problem you're solving. And I think if people spend more time on the problem they're solving and, and just being realistic. Like, you know, a lot of people that have these crazy ideas like they want to create like a social media network, like just silly stuff, like just being realistic. Like, how can you just find like something simple to say? Like, I'll give you an example. So this is my partner, Emily's company. It's cold health ish. And it's
alive, right? Yes, this is the best thing I've ever had.
The reason I The reason I tell you that it is because I think it's a really good example of a great business. So there's time indicators for the first half of the day on when you should drink and there's time indicators on the second half of the day on when you should drink. So if you fill this up two times a day, that's two litres is a one litre water bottle, and they say you should drink two litres of water a day. So this solves the problem of helping people like drink more water, and it's just got daily reminders on the bottle like such a simple idea, but such a painkiller problem.
So what was the problem that you were solving when you set out for founder? What was the problem and then because I think that people think about their internal problems for you. It's like a fucking hate my job. I'm a support it work. I don't want to be here. There's that problem. So some people just start businesses based off of that. How do you go into the problem of the customer?
See what's interesting with me, and I'll be honest, is when I started founder was just for fun. And I didn't think about the problem. But I did want to find work that I was passionate about. And I did know that there wasn't any magazines or content out there that I could really relate to where it was really in depth. It was really actionable. It was really strategical. And, you know, like, it wasn't so much like Warren Buffett or like the top 100 billionaires, it was more real. And that's what I started with. And then as I went out there along the way, I found some really key problems to solve. And then what have I never and, well, the biggest problem right now that we're trying to solve a founder is like, how do we bring, you know, just next level entrepreneur. content to people that actually shows you how to start or grow a business, whether that's in the form of online courses, or whether that's in the form of a podcast or video. So if you watch our content or read our content, or do one of our courses, it really solve that problem taught by people that have actually done it. There's so much rubbish out there right now, where several so many people are an expert, or quote, unquote, Guru, or like, it's just like, it's just so bad. So that's the problem we're trying to solve is how do we really really truly help someone start or grow their business on any topic? So if we actually produce a blog post on as an example how to grow your Instagram following it'll probably the best blog post you've ever read and actually breaks down how to exactly do it. And if people like you know, think, Okay, well, maybe maybe like, you know, that's not enough for me, I want my hand out a little more through the process. Then, you know, we have a free master class. So like, we have In a whole online course how to do it, but that that is, in essence, everything that we're trying to do a founder.
What do you think small businesses not seeing as an area to play in? So it could be you know, keeping a mailing list is the one thing that you'd suggest from the conversations you've had with entrepreneurs that you think small business owners starting out and missing.
It's tricky when you say small business.
I think I think, I think a lot of the time from my experience, people once they do start their business or they have a business sense going and making sales. I think one thing they never really know is their selling system. Like I think that's something that so many small business business owners struggle with is how to sell their product or their service. How do they get more clients? How do they get more customers. And there's this incredible book that I've read that I recommend called ready fire aim, where it talks about how to go from zero to 100 million. And it breaks down all the different stages. And one of the things that he talks about is when you want to go from the zero to 1 million phase or wherever it is, like you just want to get your business in the you know, you want to do goals, you want to take it to the next level. It always talks it talks about you know, working out what your selling system is. So whether that's you know, if let's just say as an example, you're a graphic designer, like how do you get prospects? How do you get people on the phone? I get them on the phone like do you send proposals Do you do webinars like whatever it is, like do you go door to door do you send pamphlets do you send brochures, like you need to find one way to consistently get somebody that becomes a car estimate, like, whether it's every day, whether it's every week, whether it's every month, or you need to have a system that's predictable. And that you if you just keep doing it, you'll grow.
And you say, yeah.
I think I've grown to be decent at it because I've had to. I think I'm much better at marketing than selling. I've had no professional sales training.
so it's the early days of the magazine, a huge like, I could imagine it being similar to podcasting where you can we can focus on a lot of metrics in podcasting, that doesn't actually bring us any closer to cash. We can do a great marketing thing we can look like top dogs, but we can be have no cash. And so how do you transition founder or was there a pivotal moment where you're like actually, so for instance, the charts or magazines or the search engine optimization Being able to rank highly for those things. Was that actually making you money? Or or was there something else that that that triggered it?
Yeah. So I did two things in the early days or three things that that allowed me to grow founder in the early days that got me through. The first thing was the Richard Branson edition, I made that free. So instead of charging for it, I gave it away for free and I made that kind of the loss leader. And also that's what really helped develop the founder brand and really legitimise the brand as an entrepreneurial player. Was it in any
ecosystem? Was it on like apple or like we you hear about people like them going to that event where there's Gary Vee and Grant Cardone, there's Amazon specialists and stuff like that. Did you see yourself playing in a specific ecosystem at that point?
No, no, I was literally like, I just wonder, like for me, and I know it might be hard to understand or believe but like, no, I wanted a job in marketing. No would give me a job. And I just wanted to find work that I was passionate about the first edition of the magazine on launch made $5 and 50 cents. And I just fell in love with the process. And it was so much fun. And it was quite addictive. Like, you know, your first sale for anything is just like, it's next level that feeling. And you just just want to grow. Right. And I want to do this all day every day.
Right? I'm so random. The Richard Branson that was you lost later. Sorry. I'm sorry. Yeah. What are the other areas?
Yeah. So yeah, sorry. Come back to it. Yeah. Richard Branson was the last lady that helped. And then the second thing was App Store optimization, which I think you're alluding to, I worked out how to rank on all of the top key terms for any top business magazines like Forbes Fast Company, entrepreneur. And then the last thing was Like I was consistent, like I just like kept putting out a new magazine. And that's that's the thing, right? It just compounded. And I spoke as well I spoke to other successful digital magazine owners that had a much bigger subscriber ratio than we did at the time. Right? So these are the things that like I did to just take it to the next level and that recurring revenue was a game changer. recurring revenue, big, big fan, big fan of recurring revenue, because I could just see it going up every single month, first month, that was $40. Next month, it's like a few hundred dollars next month, a few hundred more, and it just kept going up. So yeah, I think especially during now, today's climate, some sort of membership recurring subscription offering. Yeah, I really like that.
I thank you so much for your time, dude. It's, it's been great to finally Connect. It's, it's good when there's good eggs coming out of Melbourne. It's a great city.
Thanks. Yeah, no, thanks so much for having me guys. I was like I said, I love the work. And yeah, just keep putting in the time. And yeah, have to catch up soon. If there's anything I can do to help, please do let me know.
Definitely. Yeah, from my side I've been following. I feel like for a long time, I used to work at Envato. And I remember you being in there visiting. And, yeah, it's great to see the amount of growth that you've had, I think that we fit a size growth or we sort of give it a lot of weight. But there is also the personal growth in being able to work out how to take the passion that you're talking about that feeling of like being on the train and being like, fuck it, like there's a huge gap between that and what you've built today. So it's super inspiring. Thanks for being on the show.
Thanks so much, guys. Really appreciate it. And yeah, like I said, I really, really love what you're doing. If there's anything I can do to help please do let me know.
Thanks, Nathan. It's the daily talk show cinema guys. Have a good day. Say guys