Vested Capital
Vested Capital

Episode 12 · 4 months ago

(EP12): Bryan M Clayton, Founder Green Pal - 'Uber For Lawncare' - $20 Million A Year Run Rate


Bryan M Clayton is the co-founder of Green Pal, an 'Uber for lawncare' technology platform, connecting lawn mowing providers to customers all over the United States.

Bryan got his start as a teenager when his father forced him to cut a neighbours lawn to earn some money. Bryan liked being in charge of his income and over the next decade went on to build one of the largest lawncare companies in his city, earning over $10 Million a year in revenue with a team of 150+.

After a decade, Bryan decided to exit his company, selling the business. 

It didn't take long for Bryan to realize he needed a project to focus on to stay happy and passionate, so he decided to jump back into entrepreneurship and even stay in the same industry.

However, his new company was a pure technology play, connecting lawncare providers with customers using a website and app called Green Pal.

Bryan explains during this interview the very hard first five years of his new business. He didn't want to risk the money he made selling his first company (which he instead used to buy property), so along with his co-founders, they completely bootstrapped the project.

They wasted a whole bunch of money working with a development firm to build the first version of their app, then scrapped it all and learned how to code so they could build it themselves.

Bryan breaks down all the steps to grow the company from their first 100 customers to the point today where they do over $20 Million a year in revenue, having expanded across the entire country -- with international expansion coming soon!

This is an inspiring story and a great interview because Bryan was very transparent with what worked and what didn't.

Enjoy the podcast.



Hello, this is yaro and welcome tovested capital episode number twelve featuring my guest brian m clayton fromyour green pol. The over for lawn care. Bested capital is a podcast about howpeople make money and put their capital to work. I interview startup founders,who've enjoyed big exits angel investors, venture capitalists, cryptoand stock traders, real essited investors and leaders in technology. Intoday's episode, we're going to hear the story of how briant and his cofounders started our green pal or just green polecon, the domain name. Theyfinally got after a decade of being in business. As i said in the earlier inthe introduction, it is the ober for long care. So essentially, if you needyour lawn mode, you can open up the app oh go to the website and connect withsomeone who will care for your lawn. So this business was started after brianalready had an exit from a long care business that he was running for manymany years that he started as a teenager and got into it because of hisfather and grew it actually to an a figure business as well and eventuallyexited that business. But he wanted to get back into entrepreneur ship becausehe felt that was what really gave him purpose and meaning in life. So withhis co founders, he decided to start essentially a technology company and heshares the entire journey of how we set that up how they got their first fewclients how they built the supply side, the market place. You know you have tohave the people doing the long care as well as the customers really emphasizeshow hard the first five years of the journey was, but then talks a littlebit about. You know what worked to grow and scale this company to the pointwhere it's a twenty million dollar a year, revenue business and consistentlygrowing, no venture capital. It's a hundred percent bootstrapped. So anamazing story, great success story, and i think you really enjoy this interview,especially if you want to get some advice from someone. Who's had twosuccessful companies, one successful exit very likely another exit at somepoint in the future, although, as brian said he's not in a hurra to sell greenpale at the moment, i'll also ask brian about what he's done with the moneyhe's gained from his first exit and, of course, what he's continued to reinvest.His funds he's a proply investor, so you can hear his strategy around thatand how that connected with starting a second company, actually locked awayhis money so that he wouldn't risk it in the second company and consequently,he basically went through the ground. Once again, there was no advantages.They start from scratch, use their credit cards as their initial capitalsource to begin with so great story, i think you love it before i begin thatinterview just a reminder. If you have not yet subscribed to vested capital,you can do so with any of your podcast apps just hit the follow or thesubscribe or the plus button, and you can get every episode as i release them.Also, if you think this episode will be useful for any of your friends orfamily member, maybe they're getting into technology business for the firsttime or any entrepreneur really who starting a company for the first time,i think brian will be super motivational, so share the episode. Youcan actually do that by just telling them to go. To invested capital episodenumber twelve find that in any of the apps you can also use my name y, a r o,and you should find the best of capital that way or just go to y a r o dot b, l,o g and then look for the podcast tap and you will find all the episodesthere. Okay, that's it for me. Let's begin this interview with brian andbrian thanks for joining me today. Y'all great, be here thanks, fad me onyeah, so i'm excited to hear a lot more about your green pile. I was justasking you off the recording what numbers we can share with it. So do youwant to to give us the old review of actually what it is to distinct caseson obvious from the t, shirt you're, wearing of what your green pile does soyeah, so green pal is an eight year, no nine year overnight, success in thesentence, it's the uber for long care. So if you're a homeowner, you need toget your grass cut rather than calling around on craig's list or yell orfacebook. You just download green powel and you get hooked up with a great lawnmowing service unless in a couple of minutes, get quotes, hire them pay themand then book them for the whole season right on the at. If your long careservice is the best way to run your long knowing business on top of ourtechnology, everything from getting new customers at getting paid to gettingscheduled, it's kind of like an operating system for your littlelandscaping service. So, like i said, we've been at it for eight yearsstarted off, really humbly. First, three, four years of getting the marketplace were really really tough. We were just in one city, nashville tennessee,where my co founders and i live, and then little by little we start tofigure it out figure out how to make the product work predictably andseamlessly and rolled it out to every major city in the united states. Sinceand now here, you are eight years in a few hundred thousand people using theapp doing over twenty million dollars a year in revenue and bootstrapped, aself funded, the business off of its own revenues, the whole way, so that'skind of rare in the tech startup world, particularly local market places, butit's the path we chose and one of the reasons why we're still standing a lotof there's kind of a graveyard of similar businesses that didn't make itthat raise a bunch of money. And so you know it's just one of those things. Wehad a good idea. We stuck with it and we've worked our butts off and nowwe've got a good, profitable business. That's growing so many questions, butfirst thing i've got to ask is when you're coming to canada, because i'm inmontreal and i could not find a lot more. I ended up buying one of myselfto the job, so you guys coming to...

...canada or not yeah yeah canada'shappening so o one of the things that one of the barriers to internationalexpansion is that we're we focus on organic search as our main channel. Sowe get customers two ways. One is just though organic google search and theothers a word of mouth. We don't do any paid channels and you would think you'dbe relatively straightforward to just expand across that imaginary linebetween the two of us, but it's actually really difficult almost to thedegree of starting from scratch. So canada is happening maybe next year orthe year thereafter, we've got a little bit longer in terms of smaller citiesand the united states to expand into some of your lower, like miter marketslike a witch talk kansas. But after we get those saturated we're going to bemoving in the canada, uk and australia, nice, okay, looking forward to that, iwouldn't mind going back in time and just learning a bit more about theearly days and of course we can talk about you know all the girth as well,but born and raised in nashville. You said: did you go to university? Youknow you're an entrepreneur early on. Are you more planning to have a careerof some sorts yeah? So i'm forty one, but i've been in business in some shapeorford for twenty two years. I've never had a job. I always been anentrepreneur. My first company was actually a landscaping company. It wasjust a traditional law mowing business that i was dragged into kicking andscreaming by my father. He made me: go mow my first yard on a hot summer dayso get off your ass. You got a job to do. You're gonna go now the neighbor'syard. Luckily he did that because something about like i made twentybucks- and i just stuck with me and i never look back. I started passing outflyers. All over the neighborhood got my first fifteen or twenty customersand just kept growing that little long mowing business year over year in highschool and and then through college and and i went to business school at astate school in tennessee and when i graduated college had to make adecision. Was i going to go into the job market and took a pay cut, or was igoing to stick with this landscaping business? I had you know at the time ihad a handful of employees. I was probably doing. I don't know six sevenhundred thousand dollars a year in revenue, so i had a good littlebusiness and i didn't really want to be a long guy in my whole life. But ithought you know i'm going to see how far i can take this. I had kind of hada chip on my shoulder at that time. I was like twenty three or four years oldand i just wanted to build the biggest most profitable landscaping company andthe state of tennessee and set it out to do that. Made a business plan builta good team around me and learned a lot about business. You know over a fifteenyear period of time ended up growing, that business to a hundred and fiftypeople, ten million dollars a year in revenue and in a two thousand andthirteen that company was acquired by one of the largest landscapingcompanies in the united states and so growing up businesses from me and apush mower to me and a hundred and fifty people ninety trucks going outevery day. I learned a lot about how to get a business going and how to be adecent manager, decent leader and what it meant to grow and operate a businessof that size. Do you mind talking about the acquisition of that? Why did youdecide to soul yeah, you know. Ideally, when you want to sell a company, youwork a a three or four or five year exit plan. You know you, you lay out aplan that you execute against to get the company sold. I did not do that. Ireally didn't have any plans of selling the business. I thought i was going torun it for my entire life because it was profitable. It's growing, but one thing i started to learn aboutmyself was that if you're doing business right, if you're growing abusiness, the right way you as the founder should evolve every three orfour years, you should grow into a completely different person. You shouldbe able to look backwards and not even be the same person you were- and thatwas the case for me, fifteen years of running that company and i enjoyed that.I enjoyed that aspect of it really kind of wasn't the forcing function of mylife to cause me to level up. That caused me to grow to cause me to bechallenged by new things and i kind of hit a plateau once i hit about theeight million dollar a year mark and i kind of hit a plateau where, where thebusiness was no longer like giving me that- and i didn't know it at the time,but i was no longer fulfilled by it- it was no longer my purpose and once thatstarted to set in, i know it was no longer having fun, and so that's whenthe notion of okay, maybe i should explore selling this business andexplore and exit which, at the you know then, and now is not something that'scommon in the landscaping business. You know. Maybe one of these companies getbought every year in the country and at the time and still to this day, youknow it was the largest acquisition in my market in my industry. So it was notlike an easy, like straightforward thing to do, but i thought: okay, i'mgonna, i'm gonna see if i can pull this off and so from the time that i hadthat notion to the time that i actually was able to get the business sold wasover two years, and so i did a lot of the things you know a lot of thereverse engineering in terms of doing the things that you do to get abusiness ready to sell, creating the system, the processes, the accountingthat big companies look for, and ideally you do that proactively, whichyou know i didn't, but you know i was able to get it done. I was able to getit bought and one big reason why it was because of the business was debt free.I had grown that business completely debt free, and so when i was litle it ihad to clean balance sheet. So that was one of the the attractive things aboutit. Great me found wrong, but if you did one of the largest deals in yourspace, you must have had more than...

...enough money to retire. For the rest ofyour life, at that point, you do seem like the kind of guy who likes achallenge and less to keep growing just by the way you describe yourself before,but to make the decision to kind of get back into the same space again, youknow there's a lot of i would have thought. Maybe you wanted to dosomething in a completely different industry or take some time off totravel, since you were doing this when you were young, but was there a gap inbetween before? You start your green pal, like? How did the transitionhappen? Yeah, it's a really good question and it is one that i wentthrough. So when i sold the business i was able to retire and not have to workanymore, which was nice like for gum, says one less thing. You know it wasvery much that and i thought okay, what now you know i took some time off. Idid do some traveling and i started to realize that that there was somethingmissing, that my business is. The thing that lends purpose to my life is thething that makes my life interesting and that was gone, and so i thoughtokay, it's not that i love starting business and scratch. I actually hatedoing that, like the first three or four years of starting a business fromzero sucks, it's one of the hardest things you can do with your life, andso it's not like i'm wired to love that, but i am wired to love the progress.The winning the seeing like something that was just an idea be brought tolife is a lot of fun, and so- and i had this idea- you know i had this idea forgreen powel, because i had spent fifteen years in industry. I saw howinefficient it ran, how difficult it was for home owners to get hooked upwith a good lannois service and then, on the other side, like these long careservices come and go in as many reasons, because they don't know how to run abusiness. They don't have access to systems, they don't know how toimplement systems, they work hard, but they don't know how to run a company,and so i thought, if i could build like a business in a box for them and thencreate a way for homeowners to kind of hire them off the shelf. So to speak,that that could work, and so that here we are a decade later. The idea ispretty much the same as it was that we had back. Then it almost has changed,none but the execution and bringing that idea to life as meandered andtaken on many changes along the way, and so i had this burning idea this.This thing that i thought i could make happen, and i thought okay, i'm justgoing to go for it and it was almost like naivete as an asset. I didn't knowwhat i didn't know. I didn't know how hard it was going to be, and that wasgood because i never would have done any of it. If i had known how difficultin challenging it was going to be- and one thing i under indexed on was it's athere's- a big difference between starting a traditional company likewhat i had trying to build a landscaping company constructioncompany, a restaurant, whatever there's a big gap between that and inventing abrand new product from scratch that doesn't yet exist like those are twovery different things, and i didn't really understand that until i got intothe trenches of building green pale, my co founders and i were just beating ourheads against the walls like. Why is this thing not working and started toreally understand that now this doesn't exist, you're kind of on the outer edgeof what people are doing, you're, creating new experiences you're,creating new you're trying to change human behavior, and so we really justtried to learn from the best read as many books as we could listen to is gotas many conferences as we could like read as many blog posts listens as manypodcasts, as we could understand like how do you build a company from scratch?How do you invent the new product from scratch and this little by little, justthrough trial and air, doing hundreds and hundreds of things over and overagain learning from mistakes, we were able to build a product that peoplewanted to use, and so for me you know, i'm glad. I did it because here i am adecade later, i'm a completely different person, and you know my cofounders and i had to teach ourselves how to code how to do product design.You know, user psychology, you know distribution, all of these skills andthings and talents that we've accumulated over the time over the lastdecade. You know we wouldn't have you know. If had we not had this projecthad we had not had this company that required us to do it. So i'm gratefulfor that, and i think if you can look at business in that way and see it aslike. This is like the thing. That's that's going to cause me a level up inlife and it's the thing that's going to like make the my life story interesting.If you can look at it that way, it can help solve a lot of the a lot of theslog and a lot of the grind. Yeah. That's a great point: it's notjust about the money and your case. You know you already had the big financialresult, so you were doing this about finding a meaning again with a newbusiness. I'd love to talk about the early days, so you were talking thereabout learning to code lots of study about just start up technologybusinesses, but in terms of entering this space, because, obviously you youknow ober for long care a meal, you think app. So how did you guys createthe mv on the middle of viable first version that you would actually go outto the world and say here's our app and then also because it is a two sidedmarket place just having the app is not enough, you need to have the supplyside, the law moer providers. So how did you do that from you know day oneearly days as well? Yeah, it's difficult for many reasons, one! Noneof us, my two co faders and i didn't know how to build technology. We had noclue on how to do in a stuff. We didnt know how to build a product. We didn'tknow how to market a product. We didn't know how to architect the market place,and so we just we just had to get in there start figuring it out, and so oneof the things we did, which was a mistakeo but which was kind of ourticket price into the game. We pulled...

...our money together. You know i had asail under my belt, but i didn't like bank roll all that money into thesecond company, because i for a couple reasons, i didn't want to go backwardsand i didn't ever want to like pick up a weed eter ever again. I never wantedto mow another yard. Again i done that thousands of times, and so i didn'twant to go backward, so i locked all the proceeds down from the first saleinto like ill liquid investments, and so it was kind of a forcing functionfor the second business. It had to kind of sing for its supper and it had tostand on its own feet, because i knew that, like so long as i was willing tolike feed it, cash that it may never take off, and so we pulled together ourmoney- and this was like money on like credit cards, liquidated four o one kscredit card checks. You know got like a hundred and eighty grand togetherbetween to three of us and we thought. Okay, all we need to do is we need topay a deve shop to build like this idea that we have and we'll market it andwe'll just be off and going and boy we didn't know what we didn't know. Wehired a deaf shop here in nashville, took him like eight months to buildlike what we thought. Green power should be, and we did that launched it,and it was a total total failure. Total flop, the app that website sucked itwas buggy, didn't have the features it needed and in low it wasn't all theirfault. We didn't even really know what it that the product should be theproduct experience should be, and so we did that blanched. It wasteda hundred and fifty grand doing that, but we were at the time we were readinga book called the start up owners manual by steve blank which is kind ofthe predecessor to the lean started up by ericae and those two books kind oftell you one thing: it's like there's a thousand pages of one thing and it'slike get out of the building, get a product in people's hands and talk tothose people like it's all those books. Talk about in a simple concept is thatis that sounds like it's. So many business owners founders on preneursare resident to do that because it's not fun. It sucks to hear the feedbackmost of the time. The feedback is telling you what you don't want to hear,but we did do that right at least, and so we had this like crappy product, welaunched it, we passed out a bunch of door, hangers all over nashville to getpeople to use it, and we got maybe like a hundred people to try it out and wemet with as many of those hundred as we could and was through that exercisethat we were able to understand a few things one. We had a good idea becausewhen we were talking to these people they were disappointed. They were letdown. They were upset that the product didn't work. The long guy didn't showup prices too hot. He showed up, but he did a crappy job he showed up, but hedidn't know how to use his side of the appen. So, like the the workflow brokedown, they signed up, but it get any quotes. You know you name it thousandproblems, but we never heard this. We never heard. I don't need this. Wenever heard. I would never use this. We never heard like this does not solve aproblem for me, and so that was validation in a sense like all of thatnegative feedback was validation, and it was enough validation to tell uslike, let's keep pushing forward, because if we, if we spend five yearsor ten years like grinding on this, we can maybe build something valuable. Wecan maybe get create a break through, and so we use that validation to kindof like gass us up so to speak and then also confront the reality that if wewere going to be in the technology space, we were going to have to learnhow to build software. There was just no way around it. We couldn't wecouldn't like outsource this stuff. We couldn't just like change order. Thisthing to death. Through this dev shot, we go broke doing it and we would beseventy five years old by the time we got something built so like all ofthese, like realizations like hit us at the same time, and it was just do goingthrough the efforts of launching that shitty product, getting the advice andconfronting the realities and like really having a gutcheck understand.Okay, this is what it's actually going to take to pull this off and then likethis doubling down jus like having a conversation amongst ourselves, we wantto quit or do we want to keep moving forward, and so it's like. We had towork on the next version of the product and work on ourselves. At the same time,my co founder went to a boot camp here in nashville. We barely got him intothe class and he learned back in code and i learned how to do front and code,and we were able to hat together on an entirely new version. We had to scrapthe whole code base of the first verse and everything we had to scrap. All ofthat. We had to build an entire new platform, but at least this time it wasbuilt in the feedback that we had from the first hundred, so customers and itwas built in like a knowledge and understanding of like experientialwisdom. You know a lot of times. You can read all of these books and learn,and but none of that really matters until you get the experiential wisdomlike the getting in there and like getting your hands dirty andunderstanding. This is what people want, and so the second version was rooted inthat and that's what gave us the foundation to build something thatpeople would use and the ability to iterate on top of it over and overagain. We did that for five years, and so we really had something that was hadsome traction had some momental behind it and that's impressive. I can imagineyou your previous self running. The long cair business would not haveexpected your future to be front and designing an aff as yeah, never even amillion years, and it was very humbling. That's one thing that one of the coolthings about running your own business:... want to do one of the most humblingthings you can do with your life go start a company because a nobody careslike your family doesn't care your girlfriend. Your wife doesn't care likeyou have to really want to see that thing come to life and then be like themarket place is. Is une is relentless for this unvarnished feedback? Themarket place is always going to tell you where you stink. It's always wantto tell you where you suck and then the other thing too is. Is you know i hadthis like ten million dollar business and i was kind of a known commodity inthe landscaping business in nashville tennessee, and here i am now again passing out flyers. Will you use this crappy app that ipaid somebody to build for your twenty seven, a lawn mowing, like literallylike begging people, to use it very humbling, but that it was good for melike it, grounded me, and it's not that i enjoyed any of it, but it was what ineeded and you know looking back. I would i would change no part of it now.What about the supply side? You said you know you had it for a hundred testcustomers did you go out and also solicit as many law mower individuals,freelancers companies just to even create a listing on the apt like withthey enthusiastic about it? How did that side of the market place go? Thatwas one of the things that was. I was really surprised about. I thought thatyou know so long as we just created this thing that consumers would usethat suppliers would beat our door down like. I thought that that was anuntested like assumption that i had, and that was not the case, the supplyside. We had to hand crank as well and the way we did that in the early dayswe would just dial for dollars on craig's list. We figured out thatsunday afternoon was the best way to get these guys on the phone, becausethey're cutting grass money through friday, and so we would just like dialfor dollars on craig's list on sunday to try to like pitch these guys on using this app to run their long,loin business. And you know out of every hundred phone calls we might havegotten one, but all we needed was like to validate. It was like maybe twentyor thirty in nashville, so we were able to kind of grind our way through andthen, and any thing you would find out is like they would sign up, but thenthey wouldn't even bid. Even though bidding was free and then they wouldbid they get hired, but they wouldn't even show up and then they would showup and like they would literally show up. But this drive off and not even doit, and so it's like it was like. All of these is like everything that sucksabout hiring a long care service is what i realized like in the first year.Everything that sucks about hiring a long care service and keeping themcoming was now our problem as the market place. All of those like therewas no like there's like magical technology that we could just build,that with salt, like every one of those problems became our problem, and so wehad to solve them just right by figuring out the root cause of each andevery issue that could break down between like downloading the app andgetting a nicely mode lawn, and this took a long time to figure that out soin the early days we hand cranked the supply base and then the way i was ableto kind of keep them bought in was, i would offer freecoaching to them because they knew me like. If you were in the long mowingbusiness you knew who i was because i ran like the biggest company innashville, or you know, maybe top three in terms of sales revenue in nashville.So you knew who i was, and i was the only guy who had ever sold one. So ifyou were mowing lawns in nashville, you knew brian clayton was, and so when icalled you you're like is this for really you. I can't believe it and so,and so i was like yeah. I got this new app and i'll. Tell you what, if youwould use it for a year. I will meet with you once a month and i'll give youan hour free coach and how to grow your longlain business done deal, and sothat's how we got the first thirty forty vendors that use it and keepusing it. And so then we can focus on the consumer side. How do we perfectthat experience make it predictable, consistent and seamless and then twoyears later come back to the supplier side and fix all of their problems? Soit's kind of like this pink kong of solving for the wants and needs on bothsides of the transaction and if you're self funded, you knowit's you go through this stuff slow. You know. If you've raised a bunch ofcapital, fifty million hundred million dollars, you can put teams on thisstuff and if you're a smooth operator, you can pull it off like if you've doneit before. I had never done it before and so a lot of times. You see thesehuge overnight successes and what you don't realize is like that foundingteam or that founder had already crashed and burned two or three otherthings, and now he was rolling in all those mistakes and the wisdom into thisthing that did work. I didn't have that so i kind of i didn't want to crash andburn. This was my one good idea, so our strategy was just to go, slow and lowand do it sustainably, because i knew nobody was going to pull the rug outfrom under us. So i mean i can see the connection between coaching, the hungrylong hair people who want to replicate your success doesn't scale if it's youdoing the coaching. Obviously you can only do so many of those one hour aweek sessions before it becomes unmanageable t that does lead me to aquestion about business model. I'm...

...curious here was over around when youstarted this or like, as you must have thought. Okay, you pay the going rightto the lawn mower company or individual there's a profit margin for you, guys,whatever that is per job, and then you pass that on to the client. So were youexperimenting with that to make our work and then, of course i want to askyou about scale, but let's talk about business model, first yeah. So nowadays,here we are two thousand and twenty one there's a lot of like collective wisdomaround market places, how they tick, how to architect them, and i've learneda lot from all of these guys. You know guys like bill girly and the guys overin effects and there's another guy named casey winners that talk a lotabout how to architect and build a market place, but this stuff wasn'taround in two thousand and twelve when we started, and so we had to kind oflike figure it out as we went was uba around yes, but they were only in likesan francisco and new york. So over was not this validating entity that uselike yeah we're kind of like over, but for long mowing that slogan didn't likehappen until two thousand and sixteen, so the idea was good. I knew technologycould solve the problems, but it wasn't like. There was all of these otherstrategic like play books. We could fast follow, and so we just kind of had to figure itout through trial air. We knew we wanted a market place model because wewanted to. We wanted to end in transaction. We didn't want to be inthe league, gen business and we didn't want to be in the sass business.Although looking back, you know if we just focus all of our intensity on justa sass play, i mean, who knows, i mean we double down on the market placemodel? That's that's what we that's the bet we made and once you make that betit's kind of hard to go backward and so for us we knew we wanted to capture thetransaction. We want to close the loop to create that kind of like magical endand experience, and that's what we said. That's what we focused on. We knew youknow through other market places that did exist. You know like ebay, maybeamazon. The idea of a take rate and taking a piece of the transaction wasone that was validated, and that was one that we implemented and that stillour biggest revenue model, we take a sliding percentage of the transaction.Depending on how much volume the service provider is doing through theplatform, the more they do, that rate goes down, and so we did that, andthat's really. That was the only way we made money back then, is only way meonly way we make money today. Here we are a decade in you know, we'restarting to experiment with other ways to make money without taking value outof the market place. So things like, like fintech things like premiumplacement within the market, place we're talking with equipmentmanufacturers like john deer could sell equipment through the platform sointeresting ways to monetize the activity happening on the platformwithout like robbing value from the people participating in it. Yeah.That's interesting, let be fun for you guys to think about those newalternatives. Now that you have a market place, because that's the hardbare right building the audience before we talk about, maybe what you're doingnow? How did you scale so your america wide now? So that's massive. Maybe youcould go doortodoor in every single major city with those flyers, but idoubt you did that. So how did you scale? No, we learned real, quick. Igot bit by a dog two times and after the second dog bite, i realized thatflyers was not a scalable user acquisition strategy that we had tofigure out something else, but it was what we had to do with the time. It'slike starting one of these things is like a video game and, and you workthrough every single level of the game and level one for us was get a hundredcustomers. I don't care how you have to do it. Go get a hunt of customers we'llgo pass out, a bunch of door hangers once you get through level, one thatlevel to presents its own set of challenges, its own goals, its ownobject as its own final bus, and so that's what we have to do then. Now, ifpeople listening to this okay, so the key is pass out door hangers. Now thekid do whatever it takes to get through that level of the game and then get onto the next level. So once we started getting a little bit attraction alittle bit of liquidity, enough validation from users and understandwhat the hell is we were trying to do. We then began to like okay, we got tofigure out what channels are we going to experiment in and we were temaniteconstrained. We knew if we could get more home owners to use it that wecould then take care of the supply side, and so we focus on the demand side andwe experiment with facebook ads google edwards radio print tv. We use whatlittle money we had to experiment in these channels and the only thing thatwe found that would give us lasting ri was just just investing in googleorganic search. You know i type in lawn mowing service, kansas city missouri, you know we needto be in the top three, and so how do you do that? And then you know ascomplexes everything as it relates to building a product that people want touse, building a market place self funding. The thing like all thosethings are complex: google, organic searches, justice complexes, all ofthose things in its own right, and we started to understand that wow. This isa bet. The company decision we're going to have to whatevver the output, thewhatever the gdp of this business is... half of it is going to go intofiguring out how to compete in google organic search, but we had enoughvalidation just through testing to understand it. This was a good channelto bed on. This was a good channel that we could lean into it spent five years.You know investing in and we did that, and you know to this day: that's how we get half of our users.The other half come through word of mouth and i'm glad that we did thatbecause, because a lot of times, i read an article once that something likeseventy five percent of all venture money goes right back to three places:google, facebook and amazon- and we didn't want to make that bet. You knowif you can figure that out and make the unit economics work, then yeah you'rekind of master of the universe. But for us we didn't have this big pool of cashthat we could like the ploy and play with, and so we had to make like a long,lasting, sustainable bet and for us that was developing the contentbuilding the project in such a way that it was congruent with what googlewanted to see and also the pr you know when my co founder. That's all he'sdone for the entire, like the entire journey is pr. That's all he's done.You know six seven years ago. It's all he does today is getting the word outgetting the the mentions in the press, getting the back links and andexecuting on that on that piece of our strategy, and so, if you know, ifyou're listening to this- and you have a start up and you're like oh okay, sowhat i'm hearing is is so is the answer. Maybe, but it's going to be very muchabout the company decision is going to be like half the output or whatever thehell. It is you're doing so justine to close the loop on thatidea for the current space online. If you were sake deciding to go afterlocal search in two thousand and twenty one as we record this, would the advicebe similar in the sense that you do need some sort of consistent linkbuilding campaign, whether it's pr going on podcast, for example, or youknow getting some articles writing about you and then is it you're such agreat example, because you need to have an article that ranks for literallyevery single city that you're in with the word lawn, mower or lawn care orsimilar. You know phrases around that, so do you just have. I can't evenimagine, like thousands of versions of almost the same article for eachdifferent city like what's the overview. Obviously i don't expect you to divedeep into local search strategy right now, but what would be like your numberone or two ideas yeah? So to answer the first part of the question: if you'relistening to this in two thousand and twenty one, a d you're like okay, yeah,i'm going to do i'm going to do search, that's how i'm going to get mycustomers, that's cool, but it's going to be a year before youstart getting any kind of traction so like let that be known, maybe even twoyears, and so that's kind of the ramp up. The other thing is: is you startsmall go after the key words like if you're a local market place if you'relooking for the local queries, focus on one city and get it to work in one cityand then figure out what worked there and then go from neck one city to thenext? And it's going to take a long long long time. So so long as you arewilling and sufficiently motivated to grind that out, then yeah go for it.The other thing in terms of like the actual execution. For us, it's not likewe're we're re spending the same article for every city. It's what we dois we take the top ten performing vendors in every city and we interviewand we talk to him. We talked to him like we talked about their business,what they do differently, where they went to high school, how long theylived in the community, what they like about the community, what they loveabout the landscaping business and we write the best content around theirbusiness, and then we put that on our landing page along with statisticsabout like how much does it cost to get your grass cut in which a talk hansi,you know: how often should you see? How often should you fertilize? How oftenare people getting it done, weekly or every two weeks? All of this dataaround what our platform generates. We surface that to homeowners. So it'sinteresting, it's unique content that you can't find anywhere else, and so,if you're searching for a long hair service in wichita, this is one of youroptions that you can look at and guess what you can hire these folks off theshelf right here from this page. So that's our strategy, that's on page seo!So really you can take se and delineate it into almost three categories. Youknow, there's there's on page there's the technical side of it, which is, isthe site fast. What is the architecture of the site? Look like. What's thelinking internal linking of the site? Look like? Is it discoverable by googleall these things and then the other thing is off page so, which is what sites are pointing to this site,and so every link that goes to the site is kind of like a vote, and so and sofor us. You know my. My co founders been on tv a hundred times in the lasttwo years, and every time he's on you know the fox of filia and arlingtonvermont, or the abc affiliate and boca raton florida. There's a link thatpoints back, and so that link is kind of like a vote, and so googleunderstands the web, and this fashion understands that. Okay, these sitesthat garner more links are more predominant, more authoritative, moretrustworthy. Therefore, we're going to show them over these sites that don'thave any links, because nobody gives a shit about those, and so that's sotwenty years ago- and it's still so today, links matter. I some people willtell you they don't what they do, and... that's how we execute that's. Whatwe've done for ten years and as you can see, is like wow. That sounds like alot. It is that that's what it's like, if you're going to do this, it's verymuch like a bet. The company decision, yeah you're, a co founder, must he'sprobably not tired of it, but i can imagine going on these tv shows ahundred times and talking about cutting grass over and over again. You knowyou're excited about your company, but we poke fun of him because, like he's george cluny, that movie upin the air he has been on like not last year because cobi before that he's beenon so many damn he's been to so many cities and in so many flights and heloves the holiday and express because it's got like a pancake machine and itmakes free pancakes, and so we kind of make fun of about that until you lovethe pancakes that come out of the holiday in express pancake machine.Don't try to execute a local, so strategy, because you're going to haveto love that machine, like that's, really what it's going to boil down toyou're, going to have to get on the road and reach out the local media inall of these cities. If you want to play this game, okay, now we know whatto look for in a co founder as well. You need front end back in and thepancake guy and cry yes right. That's right! You need a hacker, a hustler andsomebody who loves pancakes. That's really all you need to start a bit, so you just laid that a fairlyeffective, long term strategy for growth is that what's pretty much takenyou from those five years of what you said like slow, really building aplatform making the product experience. Amazing, you know getting those hundredcustomers the suppliers, but now to get to twenty million a year in revenue. Iseverything sort of scaled comfortably? Have there been any kind of inflectionpoints from something that happened, that you know you didn't expect youlook at every chart. You know every hockey stick moment like we have neverseen that like it has been a slow progression. However, you all look attraffic revenue transactions. Whatever metric you want to look at. Is thisbeen like what jim collins calls a twenty mile march and it has been atwenty mile march for us from day one. There has never been like a breakoutmoment. Oh we did this and then we were just often going, and i would there say,like most of the time, that's the case for most businesses, i mean yeah. Ifyou raise a bunch of capital- and you can really put it to work the right way,you can hit that moment like that hockey stick moment. But for us nowthat's not been the case. You know we're doing twenty million a year,we're growing thirty forty, fifty percent. For us it's going to be doingmuch of the same things that are already working and then moving into other countries and then figuring outother revenue models and using that money to make more money. You know alot of times as a founder as a ceo, the hat you wear is capital, allocators andreally all you're doing is you're making money and then you're figuringout kay. Where do i put this money to work? Do i put it on a better prstrategy? Do i put it on hiring a new deve, a new co? Do i think, that's abetter move. Do i put it on hiring a new so lead or a new content creator ornew designer like? Where do i make my bets and so for me, like that's kind ofmy job, and so as we unlock a couple other revenue streams using that moneyto make more money is what i have to do and as a founder, really, you knowyou're going to make if you're, making two good decisions a day, you're doinggood and that's what i strive to do. You know you just described my life, ithink with my cove. I know we have a call ere two weeks and we basicallydecided how to spend money. And what part do you want to test next, so younailed it there? No last sort of thirteen or some minutes here, ryan,i'd love to ask a little bit about. I mean the future, but also the show iscalled best o the capital, and you already had an exit, and you said youput your money into some very liquid investment, so you couldn't risk itwith this new start up, and obviously this new start was now doing incrediblywell, i don't know whether you're taking dividends from it or you guys,are reinvesting everything back and growth or there's an exit strategy withgreen pal. Would you mind talking a little bit about that? Is there anexostra egy for green pile and also i love to know personally? What is yourcapital investment strategy as an individual? You know for yourself, yourfamily and so on. Yeah so sold the first company retired. So, okay, quickstory, the guy who bought my business owned- probably thirty, others like it,and so he was head of this big group that bought little businesses like mineand rolled them up. This new was probably worth a hundred and fiftymillion dollars, and so i'm talking to this guy and and the closing sale ofthat company was very contentious. There was a lot of re trading back andforth and we almost didn't get the deal done, and so i almost hated this guy,but i'm sitting down with him face to face in my office. He's like hey,congratulations. We got the deal done, an't think we're going to get it done,but it's awesome and i'm looking forward to having you on our team forthe next few months to help us. You know shipwork, and i just want to giveyou a little bit advice. Congratulations. You are now amillionaire and the best if ice can give you is that it's a lot easier tomake a million dollars than it is to keep a million dollars, and that justhit me really hard, because i had almost killed myself getting to thatpoint and you know building that business and getting the business sold.That really stuck with me- and it was almost kind of like gave me a degree ofparanoia that i was going to screw this up- that i was going to make some badinvestments and- and so i locked...

...everything down predominantly in realestate, i bought a ton of single family homes and, as it turned out, it workedout well because we're talking two thousand and twelve and i was able tobuy for thirty cents on the dollar, and so i bought a ton of single familyhomes and just turned them over to a management company that handled them.For me, and that's how you know i have paid my bills for a decade and howi can pay my bills for the rest of my life. Do i live a private jet lifestyle?No, but if i want to go travel for six months, i can and so like having thatpressure, like relieved from me, enabled me to start and build green paw.The way i wanted to, because i didn't i wasn't like pressured to make shortterm bets and to have to like make short term motivated like decisions. Ican make long term decisions because i knew i didn't have to like sell thisbusiness any time soon and i didn't have to like depend on it to go to thegrocery store that week. So that's how i started the game and that's a reallygood way. To start. You know a company where you're swinging for the fences,which is kind of what we're doing with green powel, and i coach a lot ofentrepreneurs and business owners on this kind of idea of yeah. You want tostart this ten twenty fifty million hundred million dollar business, butlet's get a single under your belt like let's get a million dollar business andmaybe even get it sold, or maybe this get two or three hundred grand put awayand then do this big say it's not a popular bit of advice that i give, buti do give it and that's kind of what i did. I got a single under in my belt,maybe a double, and so when i started green pole, i wanted to hit a home run,and so now here we are the first five years really sucked running thisbusiness. I'm not going to sugar coat it, but here we are ten years in oreight nine years in we have a more profitable. We pay ourselves a goodsalary. We don't work as hard as we used to. I might put in thirty fortyhours a week now, whereas in the first five years it was seven days a weekhundred hour weeks. So now it's high leverage, it's very much on the company,whereas you know for the first five years it was in the company and on thecompany, and so what does it look like now? Youknow i'm fine with running this business another decade, because nowit's fun, you know i'm enjoying it the day i don't enjoy. It is the day i lookto sell it, but i don't see that happen any time soon. I got a great team.We've got twenty seven people that work on the company and all of them aresmarter than me and some degree, and i love it, i'm having fun we're, crushingit and and i'll keep doing this for as long as i'm enjoying it. I love to know,then what is the day in the life of you brian right now, in terms of you knowwhat you do for the company, if it if it is more fun, you're, obviously notputting up door, hangers you're, not coding front, and i would assume nowyou know the one is making the the apple the website changes. You said youwere allocating funds, but you know you might have a meeting once a week todecide that what is your chief podcast guest at the moment? What i that's youro, i do one podcast interview with day and i do it because i believe one of myphilosophies in life is that you're either in one or two states you're,either in expansion or contraction, you're, either coping or you'rethriving. And i and for me these interviews, keep me in a point ofexpansion. I'm sharing my thoughts, i'm sharing my philosophies right or wronggood or bad ideas. Some of my ideas might be good. I guarantee some of myideas are not good, but i'm sharing, i'm expanding, and so it keeps me in astate of expansion, and that's just good for me, as a ceo good for me, as afounder, to constantly be in a state of expansion, because it's just a goodplace to be, and so that's why i do podcast interviews, and so i do one ofthose a day you know. Personally, i get up pretty early duce do an hour ofexercise of some sort and then i come in and i try to get good five hours aday, maybe he's little as three, sometimes four, sometimes five, rarelymore than that and a lot of what it is. It's checking in with members of theteam that are executing part of the plan that we've laid out for that month.So it could be a. I talked to a person, who's head of conversion, rightoptimizations, like what experiments we running. What do those look like icheck in with our ct? Okay, what are the ten or twelve deaves doing it? Whathave they gotten done and what does that look like we've got a person,who's had a qa, and all they do all day is just test all four apps and makesure that the stuff's working correctly and i look at the tickets, they'relogging and i'm making sure that we're getting those fixed and then i also doat least an hour sometimes two hours a day of customer support. Personally,because i want to like, i don't want there to ever be like a loss ofunderstanding of what it is we suck at where we're pissing off our users. Whatwe need to be focusing on a lot of times as you build a company, a gapexists between customer logic and company logic, and so the customer isseeing it from one angle and the company the founder, seeing it fromanother angle. If you do an hour of support every day, it closes that gapand so where you're almost like, never at a loss for what you need to beworking on, and so that's how i keep that gap closed and keep us focus isalmost like free rd, so checking in with probably ten or twelve, like of myleads, whether it be data seo conversion rate optanti, our devesourdesigner our content team, like they're...

...all executing and if they're notwhere's the log jam. Are you waiting on somebody else? You know what do youneed? Let me get you what you need and then rinse and repeat do that every day,and i do that five or six days a week and there's some days i might do fivehours or some days i may only do an hour. I also travel a lot. I travel four five six months out of the year,so i kind of run this business from anywhere in the world, and i don't wantanybody listening to this to hear. Oh so you mean that you can start like amarket place and then just spend the whole world. Traveling, like spendwhole time traveling. No, you can't like put in a good six seven years, andthen you can do that because the first five years it was me and my co founderslocked in a office with no windows for six and seven days a week to get thisthing going yeah. I think you've turned off anyone now from the first fiveyears. They all want to to the travel part, but not the the hard orchastestart yeah. My advice is: don't do it and if you hear that advice- and youdon't listen to you- still want to do it. Okay, that's great! I was like, but don't a step, one,don't do it. If you still want to do it, then this is what's going to be likeyeah, okay, great great advice, i think brian, what websites and obviouslyyou're green piled about come. I don't know if you guys have got green polldot com me up, hey check it out, check it out. We just bought green palco, soafter eight years of like operating without it, we just bought it likeliterally like three days ago. So we celebrated that so yeah you go togreenholm when you linked to it linked to your green pilco, because we haven'texecuted on like the seo change over, but yeah or you can that little greenpoll in the ap store or play store, get hooked up with a great long bowingservice in less en a minute. Awesome: okay, green pile com. That must be verysatisfying. Getting that. Do me the very set of time yeah. Congratulationswill keep out a good work. I obviously brian will keep tabs on this because ii feel like, although you don't want to sell now, there might be at one point,a very very big exit in your future. So may be nice to get you on the show totalk about how that went down and maybe then you'll be playing on the privatejet. So the hey there you go. I guarantee what, if that happens, allwill come back on and tell you how it went down. Okay thanks! So i appreciateyour time and keep up the good work awesome thanks for at me on the show.Well, there you go. I hope you enjoy that interview with brian and yourfeeling extra motivated to start your own business. You have to be based onthe number of times. Brian was talking about how hard those first five yearswere the early stages of a new company and i'll wrap up the episode bymentioning my company in box done com. It was actually quite interesting tohear brian talk about what his role with his co founders are. Ultimately,he calls it a resource allocation role. You know how to spend your money, andyour time i mentioned my cofounder, and i we often have discussions like that.Where do we want to invest our energy in our time in terms of growing ourcompany? I think that ties in very much to what we do. So we provide emailmanagement services for you for entrepreneurs or busy professionals whohave too much email if you're finding yourself allocating a lot of time toclearing your inbox replying to messages treating your email like to dolist for your life. That may not be the best allocation of your attention, yourtime and your energy, and you should learn to delegate an outsource tospecialists for tasks like that. So we can provide you with a dedicated in boxmanager or two or three to step in and manage and reply to all those messagesfor you leaving you with only the absolute critical messages that mightbe decisions you have to make or people you have to maintain relationships with,but we take you out of the loop completely with all the tasks thatreally don't need you to be part of. So all that kind of how do i find thisinformation or passing on an email from one person to another person in yourteam? You know from a query to the id department to the bookkeeper. Those areprocesses. You don't necessarily need to be a part of so we'll. Take you outof those we'll reply to the messages will update the software or the peoplein your team, and then you just deal with what is the five or maybe twopercent of emails that do need your attention. So in box done, com is whereyou can go to hire us and we will take over. Managing any of your in boxes canbe email can be. Your health desk can be your social media, an boxes, directmessages with twitter, linkedin, facebook, instagram and so on. We arehere to help pretty much with any kind of messaging issue. We can build asystem to manage it and reply to those messages for you. That's in box donecom head, there learn about the service and then book a discovery, calk. Okay,thanks again for listening to this episode of vested capital, you can getall the episodes at my blog y, a rotl og. This look for the podcast tab orsubscribe spotify amazon apple. I tunes tuning stitcher soundcloud, i'meverywhere you can find best of the capital and even on audible. If you'ree book listener it's available there under the podcast area of haunebu- okay,that's it for me, my name is yaro and i'll speak to you on the next episode,a.

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