S3E14 Colin Hirdman How to fund a startup without investors

S3E14 – Colin Hirdman – How to fund a startup without investors
Colin Hirdman – How to fund a startup without investors. Less than 1% of startups are able to raise venture capital. If you’re starting a SaaS business and need funding, there are creative ways to move forward. My next guest is a serial entrepreneur who built multiple companies because he first focused on building a well-operated service business. In this episode, he talks about his many business failures as well as a few of his success stories. Please welcome Colin Hirdman.

Payback Time Podcast

Payback Time is a podcast for investors. The goal of this podcast is to help make investing approachable and easy to understand. We will interview beginner and experienced investors and ask them to share stories on how they got started, what challenges they faced, what mistakes they made, and what strategy works for them today. The overall objective is to provide you with a roadmap that helps you become a better investor.

Key Timecodes

  • (00:42) – Show intro and background history.
  • (01:34) – What was his first business
  • (02:08) – Deeper into his background and business path
  • (04:06) – The wins and losses of his SaaS products
  • (10:12) – Understanding his digital agency model
  • (13:04) – The engineering team is based in the US or globally?
  • (13:18) – How can startups raise funds on that model
  • (14:46) – Deeper into his SaaS products
  • (19:15) – The challenges of running SaaS businesses
  • (20:07) – More details about his SaaS model
  • (20:59) – Is this service monetized?
  • (21:54) – How to offer solutions to the SaaS customers
  • (26:18) – How to find a sweet spot of scale and features in that business model.
  • (28:00) – The importance of keeping the focus of the service as a client pain solver
  • (30:48) – A key takeaway that the audience can apply today
  • (34:30) – The worst advice he ever received
  • (35:00) – The best advice he ever received
  • (36:19) – Guest contacts


[00:00:01.900] – Intro
Hey, this is Sean Tepper, the host of Payback Time, an approachable and transparent podcast on business investing in finance. I like to bring our guests to hear authentic stories while giving you actionable takeaways you can use today. Let’s go. Less than 1 % of startups are able to raise venture capital. If you’re starting a SaaS business and need funding, there are creative ways to move forward. My next guest is a serial entrepreneur who built multiple companies because he first focused on building a well operated service business. In this episode, he talks about his many business failures as well as a few of his success stories. Please welcome Colin Hirdmanwell-operated. Colin, welcome to the show.
[00:00:43.850] –  Colin
Well, thanks so much for having me, Sean. I really appreciate it.
[00:00:46.710] – Sean
Glad to have you here. So why don’t you kick us off and tell us about your background?
[00:00:50.590] –  Colin
Yeah. So I became an entrepreneur mostly by chance. I was at a birthday party for my dad. It’s his 50th birthday party and ended up just having a good conversation with the guy that was there. And my dad reached out to me a week or two later and said, Hey, remember Mike? I said, Yeah. He goes, He wants to talk to you about a business idea that he has. I was halfway through my senior year in college and wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with my criminal justice degree. But I sat down with Mike and my dad over some burgers and we ended up starting a company a week after I graduated from college. So I never took a business class, accounting class, marketing class, nothing. I jumped right in the fire, and that was how I got into entrepreneurship.
[00:01:34.420] – Sean
And what was this first business?
[00:01:36.380] –  Colin
The first business, the actual legal name was All American Mail Processing and Data Management Services Incorporated. United I think there might be 27 ennobles in it or something just outrageous. Do not name your company anything like that. But this was back in ’95. So it was a data processing and direct mail business. We ended up morphing the company in the late ’90s to start doing email marketing and web design and custom development. But back then, it was floppy disks and mailing.
[00:02:08.500] – Sean
Got it. And then offline, we’re talking about… Then to the listeners out there, we’ve got quite a journey here with Colin. He’s got a lot of adventures, but it all really starts with that first one because that first one can create leverage. We’re going to drive forward on this path. It was 2007, we’re talking about offline as you started. Did you bring these friends, your buddies from growing up in your neighborhood, into that business, or did you start a new business?
[00:02:33.840] –  Colin
Yeah. So I sold that first company in 2006, and so I helped the new ownership team transition into that. And then in 2007 is when I started monkey Allen Ventures with Josh and Zak, who were childhood buddies. We’ve all known each other since we were seven years old. Josh was literally my next door neighbor. Zach lived a couple of blocks away. And monkey Allen was the name of a park that we played at when we were kids. And so that has been the vessel in which we’ve launched a lot different products and services over the last 16 years.
[00:03:05.000] – Sean
Got it. Okay. So that’s an agency, correct? Yes.
[00:03:08.350] –  Colin
So monkey Allen Ventures is the holding company. And so then underneath that, we have Agurion, which is our digital marketing company that has a team of about 32 people. And then Cloudburst, which does software development for non technical founders. And there’s about 15 people in that company.
[00:03:24.500] – Sean
Got it. And those two businesses, Agurion and Cloudburst, did you start them at the same time or one of them at first?
[00:03:32.980] –  Colin
Yeah. So we started Agurion almost eight years ago, and that was a service based company doing digital marketing. And about five years ago, we started Cloudburst. So that gap between 2007 and 2015 was a bunch of different software products, SaaS products that we launched and a hardware product that we got successfully funded through Kickstarter. So there was a myriad of products and great lessons learned in between that and then getting the service companies stood up.
[00:04:06.560] – Sean
Got it. Okay, I want to dwell on that time period a little bit because there’s a lot of people listening who they’re looking to create product businesses, service businesses. And I said this to the audience before, much easier to start. You don’t need manufacturing equipment or an office space. And like an agency, you can literally work from your home, get a laptop. You already got a cell phone, get Adobe Photoshop or whatever tools. And you’re off and running. So these products, let’s talk about those. What were some of the wins? Let’s focus on the winners first, and then we can dwell on the losers.
[00:04:42.400] –  Colin
There’s a lot more losers in there. And so in 2007, we had an idea to start a SaaS product called Buy the Change. And it was a mash up, if you will, between Facebook and Craigslist. Back then, you got to remember, My space was still bigger than Facebook. And it was really an idea for us to allow businesses, people, and nonprofits to create communities to be able to offer their wares and their services. And 70 % of businesses, we had a fee for them to sign up, would go back to the nonprofit of their choice. So it was a way for us to take for profit money and fuse that into nonprofits. And we thought nonprofits would be this conduit to really tell all their supporters and their members about this really wonderful product called Buy the Change. And it just didn’t work. We did a friends and family round and got investment and spent about three years on the product, and it just didn’t take off the way that we had hoped. And we were running out of runway fairly quickly toward the tail end of that, when Twitter started to take off, we spent about a little over a month building a product called LocalT weeps.
[00:05:51.780] –  Colin
It localized Twitter users around zip codes. You’d sign in the product with your Twitter account, you’d put in your zip code, and then it would associate you with the with Kota city in a state. And then a tweet would go out through your Twitter account saying that you just signed up on local tweets. Well, when we launched the product, it caught on pretty quick. And we signed up probably close to 30,000 users in just a few days. But we didn’t have a monetization model. We were a trending topic on Twitter, and we had blogs and sites writing about the product. It was really cool to feel that way of and having something get product market fit almost instantly. But we didn’t have a monetization model. So we took our learnings from that and built another software product called SMBTweet, which is like small medium sized business, SMBTweet. And that product was really based off of an algorithm that we created that mimicked how a human would grow a Twitter audience for a local business. So a local coffee shop or pizza shop or whatever. But they need Twitter users that are local that could actually walk in and buy something from their store or their establishment.
[00:06:59.760] –  Colin
We created this product called SMB tweet, and we started to grow it into the hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. Then Twitter changed their terms of use, and we pretty much had to submarine and kill the product because the token method that we had, if Twitter found that we were doing any automation, they could have just killed our product. And it wasn’t spammy. We had it set at a rate that was really favorable for people and businesses and the Twitter community, but we ended up having to shut it down. So we ended up launching other SaaS products that we don’t necessarily have to get into that were all over the map. Josh, Zak, and I are not developers. We always had the business ideas, but we always had to find developers to help us. And so that it was always a little bit of an issue for us. And we use offshore, near shore local developers with varying levels of success. So then at one point, Josh and Zak had to go get jobs. There was some tough times where Josh was even working overnight at Target and he has an NBA. But I kept things going by starting to do some digital marketing, and I started to grow the digital marketing practice big enough where I could bring in Josh and Zach.
[00:08:11.580] –  Colin
And at that time, while all that was happening, we also ended up launching a hardware product called Flui d, and we did a successful kick starter, and it was like a smart water meter. So think about NEST thermostats. This is the water meter version of NEST. We ended up getting product built and went through the whole process of getting it out into the market and whatnot. And fortunately, there’s just not a market for smart water meters like there are for smart thermostats. So we ended up having to shut that down as well. But during that time of doing that, we were also growing monkey island in terms of services for digital marketing. And we came to this pivot point of deciding, are we really going to keep doing things on the side all the time, or are we going maybe just put more energy into building an agency around digital marketing? So that’s what we decided to do. And so for the last seven and a half years, we’ve grown the team to about 32 people. And about five years ago, that issue that we had around software development, Zak had a lot of passion around wanting to help founders get their own tech built, but they might not have the aptitude or the skill to build their own tech.
[00:09:26.040] –  Colin
And so Cloud Burst really came about to help non technical founders build technical products for their companies. So that’s how things evolved and getting us close to the present at this point.
[00:09:40.940] – Sean
Right. Thank you for going into detail there. Really appreciate you sharing those ventures you tried. I certainly had a few swinging for the fences on some new tech idea, whether it’s a SaaS or some marketplace or whatever. And then it’s a swing and a miss, another strike.
[00:09:57.880] –  Colin
Yeah. No, I’ve spoken at my all the live better, and I have a deck and I have a graveyard slide with all the little things that we’ve built in the past that didn’t work out. And like they say, you learn from your failures and you keep moving on.
[00:10:13.140] – Sean
No, I really like this. And this is another testimony to the fact that agencies, it’s a model that works and it’s a necessity because I’ve had quite a few business owners that they probably haven’t tried as many ventures as you have, but they’ve tried something, some product, but they fall back on the agency because businesses need digital marketing or software services in some way, shape or form, and you need to charge them a project fee, monthly fee or hourly fee. And it’s a tried and true business model. And I also found that a lot of these people will get into this with you a little bit, a lot of these people establish this agency or service model and then optimize it. They bring in people, they put in systems. And next thing you know, now you have some level of financial independence to maybe work on other ventures, what you’re doing, or of course, take more free time to travel or do whatever you want. So it sounds like you and your two buddies, you said it was Zak and… Josh. And Josh. Yeah.
[00:11:12.200] –  Colin
You created.
[00:11:12.980] – Sean
The agency for first digital agency, then you brought in the software engineering firm, Cloud Burst.
[00:11:20.800] –  Colin
Yes. So those are the two entities.
[00:11:23.920] – Sean
Yeah. And let’s dive into that model because we’re talking about something offline too, where you give a discount to help out new tech startups and help.
[00:11:31.860] –  Colin
Them get.
[00:11:32.970] – Sean
Started a little easier. Let’s talk about that a little bit.
[00:11:35.800] –  Colin
When we developed SMBTweet, the developer that we use locally, he discounted his hourly rate for us as an early stage startup and said that, Okay, well, when you start to generate revenue, 20 % of your revenue, I want coming back to me to essentially give me a higher hourly rate at the completion of our engagement. And so all the hours he worked up front, I can’t remember exactly what we were paying for our bill. Let’s just say it was $50 an hour. His normal hourly rate is $100 an hour. But he effectively got paid at $150 an hour for all the hours that he put in once our product started to generate revenue. So he got made whole. He took some risk on the front end, and we didn’t have to give up any equity to get our product bill. So that’s really this shared success agreement came out of that experience. And so that’s what we do at Cloud Burst, not with all of our clients, but with some of them, we will be entering into a shared success agreement where we will discount our hourly rate for a set amount of hours, and then we will start to get paid back at a higher hourly rate than what we normally charge once the client starts to generate revenue.
[00:12:45.270] –  Colin
So it’s a great method to help us take on some of the risk, have the founders reduce some of the risk. They don’t have to give up any equity, like I said, but then it gives us the opportunity to generate an additional revenue stream once that client starts to generate revenue. So it’s a win win for both parties.
[00:13:05.020] – Sean
And the engineers, are they here in the States or offshores?
[00:13:08.850] –  Colin
They’re all local. So between both companies, about 50 people and all of them are here in the Twin Cities.
[00:13:17.320] – Sean
Got it. Now, that’s a great option because there’s a lot of people out there who they’re looking to raise funds for their startup. And I think I read a statistic the other day that only like 1 % or 3 % of startups actually looking for money actually raise money. So they could be turning their wheels for weeks, months, and even years. And I do know people in the Milwaukee area that they’re doing exactly that. It keeps spinning the wheels. And I’m like, guys, you got to think of something more creative to get software engineering in motion without trying to raise funds. And your model is a good option.
[00:13:58.360] –  Colin
Yeah. And so right now there’s shared success agreements. Org. It’s just a free site that any two parties can create a shared agreement, and they can decide on the specifics of how they want to enter in the agreement. But I think really what we want to do is really democratize the opportunity for anybody to be able to create a company, to really be able to act on their vision to build something and find people that want to contribute to that success through whatever it is that the founder needs, whether it’s development, could be money, could be marketing, could be legal, whatever. Those shared success agreements, we almost want to put them in a category right next to equity or right next to debt or right next to crowdfunding. Shared success is just another category that another founders can use to help get their companies built. Right.
[00:14:45.050] – Sean
That’s smart. I want to transition to you’ve got a SaaS product you’re working on as well.
[00:14:51.620] –  Colin
Can we talk about that a little bit? Yeah. So I think one of the things that I would recommend a lot of the people listening, if you’re short on cash, One of the things to think about, if you’re also working for someone and you don’t want to work for anybody else but yourself, that ladders of wealth creation. I don’t know if you’ve seen that, but the ladders of wealth creation are a great visual demonstration of the different types of businesses and so there’s I think four different ladders and each rung on the ladder is the type of business within that ladder. But what it shows you is that the easiest business is to start on the left and that’s really just exchanging your time for money. The most difficult businesses to build are ones like Facebook or Uber and they’re at the top of the last ladder but they’re also the most difficult. But I think what it does is it starts to put it in a framework in people’s minds around, how do I just get started in building what it is that I want? And a lot of it does start with a service based business.
[00:15:47.370] –  Colin
And so when I look at Agurian, what I had learned with my very first company is that when we did start to diversify, we jack of all trades, master of none. We just didn’t go deep. We were very shallow across all the different areas that we had services in. And so with Agurian, we very much wanted to start very deep and just across four areas of digital marketing, which is SEO, paid media, analytics, and strategic content. And that’s all we’ve done since we started, and that’s all we continue to do. And our team is just really knowledgeable in that. And so from day one, we wanted to imbue the company with that entrepreneurial spirit that Josh and I and Zak had from the beginning. And we have always had that. And so we’ve launched a couple of different software products out of Agurion over the last seven years. The latest one is called Gainspot, Gain, S POT. Io. And that is a digital marketing tool that’s really trying to help our team and other digital marketers get to strategy faster and generate revenue quicker. And so it’s really focused on revenue generation. And so that product, getting built, we’ve just gone into private beta.
[00:17:06.660] –  Colin
But I think that shows you how we started generating a service based business that’s much easier to start. We generated revenue. We no longer have a runway. I think one caveat here is I was president of a Gurion until October of ’21, and then Josh took over that role and is now president and is doing just a phenomenal job. I love the chaos of startups, and so Gain Spot is really filling a need for me. Really, what I’m charged with is bringing in enough services revenue to cover my expenses in Gain Spot, and then to start getting companies to start paying for the product. As you know, Sean, getting people to pay for your product isn’t always the easiest thing. There’s a lot of listening and watching and building you have to do before you get that product market fit with the product. And so that’s what I’m going through right now with Gain Spot. But it’s giving getting us an ad bat out of a garrion to have something that could really scale beyond just an agency. And I think that’s something that everyone here is really excited about.
[00:18:11.440] – Sean
I love that. You’ve created a stable business, a service business and agency. Well, I consider two agencies if you put the software engineering model in the same boat because it’s not a highly scalable model, but it’s really created this freedom where you can invest in this other SaaS business and really that’s where as you talked about that ladder, you’ve got on that far end of the spectrum, that far right, you’ve got the marketplace, you’d call it, where you have a buyer and sell in the same location. They can just go gangbusters. Well, SaaS is pretty… Am I correct here? It’s pretty close to that last ladder, or is it within?
[00:18:50.630] –  Colin
Yeah. No, I think SaaS is on that last ladder because I think the top of the third ladder is product high services. And I think, yeah, I believe SaaS is on that last ladder, but it’s just not the top rung. I think the online marketplace, like an eBay, an Uber, a Facebook, those are at the top of the rung.
[00:19:12.860] – Sean
Right. Exactly. I remember, I won’t spend too much time here, but I try to create a Groupon knockoff back in 2013. You did buyers and sellers on the same platform, right? And instead of charging or taking 50 % of the profits from the business, we just said, hey, a flat fee subscription for 100 bucks a month, you keep all the profits. People loved the idea, but we couldn’t bring in consumers fast enough to serve them. And it was 2013. So we tried to raise money and investors were like, great idea, but you’re like, four years late to the party. Nobody wants to do daily deal. Living social was starting to become a dying breed. I remember that. I don’t think anybody thinks about Groupon or living social these days?
[00:20:01.680] –  Colin
I think if anything, Groupon is the only one that’s around still, and the interaction seems to be waning.
[00:20:08.510] – Sean
But SaaS, you’re right. It is the toughest part is that product market fit. And it sounds like your model, it’s a B2B. Let’s dive into that a little bit. It sounds like it serves agencies, maybe a certain size agency.
[00:20:22.720] –  Colin
Yeah. So I think that’s part of what we want to find out. So last year, I did a lot of growth hacking, if you will. I perfected some cold email outreach and LinkedIn outreach, and we signed up about 275 companies that were interested in the beta. Now I’m starting to offer up access to those 275 companies. I’ve just started opening that up in the last couple of weeks, and I’m doing onboardings and whatnot. And so that process has gone really well. So yeah, that’s where product is at right now is just starting to do those onboardings.
[00:20:59.150] – Sean
Do you Let me back up a second. Is it monetized? Are you now charging customers? Are you still trying to drive to a price point?
[00:21:06.760] –  Colin
Yeah, we’re not exactly sure what the price point will be right now. It’s free. When I was doing the outreach, I wasn’t being too particular on the types of people or businesses that I was going after. So it works just as effectively for agencies as it would for brands or individual companies. And then that sweet spot around the digital marketers, who it helps the most, we don’t know whether it’s going to be more or less sophisticated digital marketers yet. We have to figure that out, I think. And some of that will play out. I mean, it’s super early. I think I’ve had four or five onboardings now, and I have like another 10 scheduled in the next week. So I’m just starting to get into, I think, some really good conversation with potential users. But yeah, that’s where it’s at right now.
[00:21:55.500] – Sean
What I’d like to do is share some of the findings I’ve learned because I’ve been in the SaaS space for over 10 years. And I’ll just talk about B2C, and then I’ll talk about maybe some ideas for your model here. With B2C, I know just based on research before starting Tykr, and my own experience working in the space is you want to charge less than 50 bucks a month to a consumer. As soon as you get above the 50, you weed out a lot of people. It creates a higher barrier to entry. You’re not going to hit that mass volume of 100,000 subscribers on a platform or a million. It’s just so difficult. So you got to keep it less. With B2B, I found really two categories. You got SMBs and then you got enterprise. And I know… Do you know who Nathan Lefka is?
[00:22:44.500] –  Colin
Not sure.
[00:22:45.350] – Sean
I went to one of his conferences. He’s in Austin and he’s got his own podcast, but he’s really focused on more B2B SaaS. He interviews SaaS founders. He’s got like 2,000 episodes on his podcast. Met the guy, really nice guy, smart dude. And with B2B, he found out because what he does for us as entrepreneurs is he interviews all these people, extracts the data, and you can actually see all these businesses. And the average price point for SMBs is between 100 and 300 bucks a month. And as soon as you go above 300, it’s that same B2C issue. If you go above 50, you weed a lot of people out. And the fastest way, I should back up here, at this particular conference, it had 100 plus entrepreneurs, most were B2B SMB focused, and everybody was asked, how do you generate leads the most? And it was free webinars, getting people on calls, doing product demos, and then getting them into a 15 day to 30 day trial thereafter was the fastest way. So if you can, instead of getting one person on per day, try to set up three or four calls with these people, show them a demo, give them free trial in their own, 100 to 300 bucks thereafter, and boom, rinse and repeat.
[00:24:00.160] – Sean
And it was really cool to hear these testimonies on stage. It was literally the same story back to back to back. This is how I grew on mine. The big question is, do these people have all the features that are solving their problem?
[00:24:17.620] –  Colin
Yeah. And that’s one of the things that I think I became pretty… With SMB tweet, when we had that, we were charging $19.95 a month. And I think it had very little customer support. And I think our cost per month was like 60 cents or something like that. It was just a beautiful business model. It was a great business. Curse you, Twitter. But what I’ve realized with Gain Spot over the last year and doing a lot of this marketing to prep up before launch was that we’re really hitting these tier one problems around saving time and generating revenue. And so the value prop of Gain Spot, if we can really make the product realize its potential in helping our clients save time and make more money, which that’s exactly what the product is built for, we should be able to charge the amounts that you’re talking about and have it be something that the client doesn’t even have to think about, like, Wow, what’s the they just saved me two hours a month, and I’ve captured X amount of dollars in new revenue that I wasn’t capturing before. That makes it really easy to pay for a product.
[00:25:27.960] – Sean
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[00:26:28.880] –  Colin
I think the promise of the product and what we talk about on the homepage, the landing page, I think we’re hitting a sweet spot. It’s funny. I was on a call yesterday with a potential user and they said, Gain spot seems to really hit that slot between a digital marketer doing their job without any tools and these really sophisticated tools like Semrush or Maz, Ahrefs. And Gain spot fits in between that really nicely where it starts to give direction for the digital marketer around revenue potential and where they should be spending their time and budget. But then gives the digital market freedom then to take that knowledge and start to apply it to the accounts, to Google or to Semrush or to any of the publishers that they might be using search console, their website, things like that. So it’s great getting that feedback, but I think we still need to continue to add features to the product.
[00:27:24.940] – Sean
Right. I’m curious here, how many different customers are you talking to per week?
[00:27:31.500] –  Colin
Well, right now I’m probably going to average close to 10 a week.
[00:27:35.810] – Sean
Nice. There you go.
[00:27:37.460] –  Colin
Yeah. And these are actual conversations. And then I want to follow up. I know we’re getting to books and things that I’ve taken in over the years, but The Mom Test is a really great book about idea validation and having those conversations and doing that before you build anything, as well as when you start to validate the product itself. Using some of those learnings in my conversations with people.
[00:28:01.820] – Sean
Yeah. One book that really helped me was Ryan Levesque’s Ask. I think I read that maybe eight or seven or eight years ago. But yeah, The Mom Test was, I thought, was a perfect compliment to ask the right questions, to really drill down. What are customers really looking for? Because you can ask a lot of questions, but you’re not going to arrive at the point. I asked the number of questions question to you is because I see a lot of entrepreneurs building but not interviewing. And especially with a product business like what I’ve done, I’ve had to do with some of the companies I worked at is ask a lot of those questions before you build. And then when you’re building, you’re still asking those questions. So it’s very iterative will Tykr. It’s like all on the customer. What pain do you have and why do you have that pain? And let’s go another 10 layers deep to really understand. And then just repeat over and over to get as many interviews to really understand what people are looking for.
[00:29:01.750] –  Colin
Yeah, and that’s great. It’s fantastic that you’re in a spot where you are at least comfortable enough to have those conversations. I think for a lot of founders, especially in tech, it’s really easy to focus just on product and focus on features and to focus on your competition and all of that when really you should just be getting that MVP built and start talking to people. I think I’m a good combination, I think, of introvert and extrovert. I probably lean a little bit more on the introvert where having the meetings can be a little bit stressful, the idea. But once I’m in the meeting, it goes phenomenally well. And when I’m done, I get this little high. I really am so appreciative of the time that person just gave me and what I just learned. I think that’s one of the biggest lessons that we can give founders and aspiring founders listening to us right now is you got to just push through some of the stuff and just do it and just rely on the faith, Ron, faith that people think ourselves are telling you, this is what you need to do and just go do it.
[00:30:06.720] – Sean
Yes. I was going to ask next, the number one key take away, and I’m going to use that as the number one because a lot of people are where you’re at. And I can fall under that category too, more of an introvert than extrovert. I like my heads down time. I like to be reading or researching and looking at data or stocks. And I got to be like, no, Sean, you need to be talking to customers. You need to be setting Zoom calls up. And it’s the anxiety of setting those calls. But once you’re in it, this is not so bad.
[00:30:36.730] –  Colin
Right. No, it’s a one on one with another human being. And 99.9 % of everybody you’ll ever meet are going to be kind and graceful and the kinds of people that you want to be interacting with.
[00:30:47.700] – Sean
Awesome. Well, that was a great key take away. Is there anything else you’d like to share with the audience, maybe about your service business? We could talk about the SaaS a little bit too, but any of your businesses that you want to share before we jump into that rapid fire round?
[00:31:03.620] –  Colin
Yeah. I think with Agrian, the service based business digital marketing, we are typically dealing with more sophisticated clients, ones that haven’t had a great experience with maybe an agency that they’re using now or maybe outgrowing their internal team. And they need an agency that’s really going to bring a lot of thought leadership and guidance for the client around digital marketing, and we’re very much results oriented. I mean, Gain spot, being revenue focused, that’s how we are with a lot of our clients as well. We know that if we’re driving revenue, they’re going to be happy. And with Cloudburst, we’re more on the a non technical founder. If you have an idea for a software product and you’re looking to get clarity on what it would take to actually get it built, Cloudburst was made for people like Josh Zakata. It’s made for founders that need help on the technical side to get things built. From a services side, those are how they work. Gain spot, again, is open for beta users. So if you are a digital marketer and you want to give it a try, we’d love to have you sign up. And then the shared success agreements.
[00:32:15.460] –  Colin
Org is, again, it’s a great new tool for founders to get what they need in order to build their company and would love to just have more conversations with founders. So feel free to check that out and reach out to me for any of this stuff. One of the biggest things I think I’ve done over the last six months is focused on my network. And that’s one of the things I think maybe the other big take away for people that are listening is start growing your network. And I didn’t really apply it in the way that I should have until probably in the last six months where I’m finding people on LinkedIn, I’m reaching out to them and just cold asking them like, Hey, you want to jump on a call? Would you like to grab coffee? And I try to put a reason in there of value. I want to bring value. But I think that’s a big, especially even in the tech industry, we were so focused on software and hardware and the tech side of things. But the people side is just so vitally important that we need to continue to spend time cultivating the people side.
[00:33:13.870] –  Colin
A lot of that is growing our network.
[00:33:16.260] – Sean
Great advice there. And at the end, we’ll have the promote where they can reach you. But first things first, let’s jump to the rapid fire round. This is the part of the episode where we get to find out who Colin really is. So if you can, try to answer each question in 15 seconds or less. You ready? Yes. All right. What is your favorite podcast? I’d say right.
[00:33:36.760] –  Colin
Now my favorite podcast is Bankless, and it’s in the whole decentralized finance blockchain world. So I volunteer for the Minnesota Blockchain Initiative. So it’s one of the things that I’m really passionate about.
[00:33:50.140] – Sean
Nice. What is the recent book you read and would recommend?
[00:33:54.780] –  Colin
The Go Giver. So it’s all about giving and it’s in a story format. So it’s a really easy listen or read. I think it would really help people to grow their network and ultimately grow themselves and their business.
[00:34:07.520] – Sean
Nice. I actually ordered that two months ago. It’s sitting on my bookshelf, but I have not opened it. So you just gave me a little nudge to maybe raise the priority here.
[00:34:16.220] –  Colin
Yeah, that’s great.
[00:34:18.040] – Sean
Great. All right. What is your favorite movie? I’m going.
[00:34:20.660] –  Colin
To have to go with Star Wars because the original came out when I was five years old and I grew up with the toys and the movies. So I love Star Wars.
[00:34:29.830] – Sean
Nice. Now we’ll get into some business questions. What is the worst business advice you ever received?
[00:34:40.220] –  Colin
Don’t give up any equity. And so I’ll say that that is good advice but it’s also not good advice for someone like myself. I don’t like being like a solo owner. I like having business partners. I don’t mind giving up equity. So I think you need to figure it out for yourself. But going it alone is really hard.
[00:34:59.910] – Sean
Right. Let’s flip the equation. What is the best business advice you ever received?
[00:35:05.640] –  Colin
I remember going to an event and Guy Kawasaki was a speaker and he said, Don’t listen to the bozos. I think that’s a big thing to remember. One of the lines that I’ve made up is everybody is making up everything all the time. I don’t care whether you’re Tim Cook of Apple or whether you’re us and a listener, that entrepreneurial path, we’re all making it up all the time. So just go do it.
[00:35:28.370] – Sean
Go do it. Nice. all right, last question here. Time machine question. If you could go back in time to give your younger self advice, what age would you visit and what would you say?
[00:35:39.260] –  Colin
I would probably talk to my 22 year old self because, again, I started my first company a week after graduating. I think the advice that I would give myself is to remember to live in the present moment. I think it’s just so easy to think about the future. It’s so easy to to look at the past and have regret and looking in the future and being stressed. And so I think living in the present moment allows you to focus on what’s most important. It also allows you to appreciate and have gratitude. And so I think for me, that’s what I would give my hyper crazy self when I was 22.
[00:36:19.380] – Sean
Right on. I totally agree with that. All right. Where can the audience reach you?
[00:36:25.160] –  Colin
You can reach me at LinkedIn is great. Colin Hardman. I’m also Colin Hartman on Twitter. Feel free to connect with me there. And at any of our businesses, you can reach me through any of those two. I would say LinkedIn and Twitter are great initial spots to reach me. I can throw out my email collin. Herdman@ monkeyislandventures. Com. That’s C O L I N. Hirdman@ monkeyislandventures. Com. I am an open door. I want people to feel like if they have any questions about being a founder or entrepreneurship, I want to help in that stage of my life. I just want to give. And if anybody has questions or needs anything, reach out.
[00:37:08.720] – Sean
Well, we can see your passion. You’ve had enough ventures that maybe didn’t work, and you got a few that are working. And the entrepreneurial spirit is strong with this one, you could say.
[00:37:19.400] –  Colin
Well, thanks. I really appreciate you having me on this. This is one of the things I want to do a lot more of is just sharing my experience and helping out others as.
[00:37:28.100] – Sean
I can. Right on. All right, Colin, we’ll talk to.
[00:37:31.010] –  Colin
You soon. All right. Thanks again, Sean. Bye now.
[00:37:34.340] – Sean
Hey, I’d like to say thank you for checking out this podcast. I know there’s a lot of other podcasts you could be listening to, so thanks for spending some time with me. Also, if you have a moment, could you please head over to Apple podcast and leave a review. The more reviews we get, the more Apple will share this podcast with the world. So thanks for doing that. And last thing, if you do hear any stocks mentioned on this podcast, please keep in mind this podcast is for entertainment purposes only. Please do not make a buy or sell decision based solely on what you hear. All right, thanks for your time. Talk to you later. See you.