Vested Capital
Vested Capital

Episode 6 · 1 year ago

(EP6): Greg Smith Founder Of Canadian Tech Unicorn And TSX Listed Thinkific, How To Build SAAS Using MVPs

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

I am resurfacing my interview with Greg Smith, founder of Thinkific.com, a Vancouver based SAAS servicing course creators, because this year (2021) Thinkific did an IPO on the TSX (Toronto Stock Exchange) raising $160 Million.

As I type this, Thinkific has a market cap of $1.36 billion dollars, making it one of the rare Canadian tech unicorns.

Greg and his brother launched the company initially with a much more hands-on approach (it was more like an agency service to begin with), and then slowly built out a software service.

Today they offer a free and premium version of their platform, earning millions in recurring subscription revenue, employing over 70 full-time employees in Vancouver, all working to help people from around the world to deliver courses online.

It All Started With Marbles…

Greg and I traveled back in time to his first business venture as an 11-year old. He built a marble ‘theme park’ and invited the neighborhood kids to come over and play, and then sold them candy he bulk purchased.

This was the first business project in a long line of entrepreneurial ventures Greg undertook as a young man, right up to the point where he graduated from university and became a lawyer.

While Greg was studying law, he created a blog to share lessons on how to pass the LSAT — the big test students need to pass in order to get into Law school.

He then created his first online course, also on the LSAT. It was very early days for selling courses back then, so Greg couldn’t find any good platforms to help, so he hired a programmer to whip up something basic within a month. That was 13 years ago, and his LSAT course is still selling online today!

Needless to say, the germ of the Thinkific business came from this first experience selling his own online course, but Greg would not begin his tech startup for many years yet. First, he had a career as a lawyer.

Although Greg loved working as a lawyer, he couldn’t fight the urge to build something of his own, and eventually left his job to start a business.

Greg explains how he made the decision to move back in with his parents to save money, and with his computer engineer brother as his partner, started the first version of what would become Thinkific.

Growing A Tech Startup

I was particularly interested to learn how Thinkific grew into the company it is today, so we spent much of the second half of the interview diving deep into the journey of a software startup.

Greg talks about how they initially sold a much more hands-on service, how they decided who to hire first as they grew their team eventually to 70+ people (and still growing!), and why it eventually became clear they needed to build a platform to service their ideal customer.

If you’re interested in starting your own SAAS or subscription-based tech startup, I think you will find a lot of what Greg did with Thinkific during the early days very insightful.

Enjoy the interview,

Yaro

Podcast: https://www.yaro.blog/pod/
Blog: https://www.yaro.blog/

Hey there, this is yarrow and welcome to vested capital episode number six, featuring my guest Greg Smith, the founder and CEO of think IFFIIC. Now I actually did this interview with Greg a couple of years ago on my previous podcast, the the Yarrow podcast. I'm resurfacing it now because his company think if fick just this year two thousand and twenty one floated on the TSX, the Toronto Stock Exchange, so it raised a hundred sixty million dollars Canadian in the IPO. And, just as I'm hitting the record button on this intro, a new intro for the episode, the company is valued at one point three six billion dollars, so it's a unicorn. So I thought would be a great time to resurface this interview with the founder so you can hear about Greg's background story as well as how I think if it was first created, how the software was developed, how they got their first clients and then how they grew, how they hire people, a lot of industring, behind the scenes details about a company that has gone on to become one of the few rare Canadian UNICORNS. So that's why I'm resurfacing it. I think you'll love it. It's a great story. I had to relisten to the episode just to make sure it was still relevant for you and it was very interesting to hear Greg say towards the end that an IPO is something he has not yet ruled out. So this was probably recorded, I would say, just before they began the background process of beginning that IPO. So great time to hear the story and so amazing now to see it as a listed company on the Toronto stalking chain. So here's the interview. Today I have a guest who has built a company in an industry that I really enjoy. As most of you know, I've been in this sort of information marketing teaching business and in fact I've made the majority of my online come from some form of online course for about the last ten years or so. And my guest is the founder of a company you might know really well because it helps us to set up and sell online courses. So I'd like to introduce you today to Greg Smith, the founder of think if it. Hello, Greg, Hey, are o great to be here. Thank you. So you have the easiest named pronounced, I think, of any guest I've ever had on the show. So I appreciate that. Yeah, it's got its pros and cons. You know if you Google Greg Smith, that you usually have to add some sort of modifier like think Ivic or lawyer or something before you any find anything about me. Right, so I guess it's good for anonymity but not so good for building any kind of Internet brand. You have the opposite of my name. I have. I've owned the arrows since the beginning on Google because besides my father, there's not a lot of arrows out there. So right, yes, which is which is actually quite helpful. But yes, my condolences for all the Greg Smiths out there. You guys are just everywhere. So now, for those who don't know, I think if it is a Vancouver based company. I know you guys have been growing like crazy. I've been to your offices here. You want to just give us a quick summary of, you know, what you do and how being the companies at the moment? Sure. So, we started, well actually now, about six years ago, and we are a platform that makes it super easy for people to create, launch, deliver, sell and market their own online courses or membership sites or online learning programs, with full branding and control put into your hands. So really what we're going for is if you went out and hired your own developer or team of developers today to build out your own custom solution for delivering your own online content and education, that we'd be able to give you much better result than if you went out and did it all yourself, and obviously at a much reduced cost. And so we've been around about six years, served tens of thousands of course creators and millions of students, and our team now in Vancouver eyes about seventy people and hiring. So for people who are looking for especially digital marketing and product management jobs, we're always looking for awesome people and have a pretty amazing culture and having a lot of fun doing it. I was joking with Greg before we hit the record button. How...

...did they have these? Think you fake couldies? I actually have one as well and I swear every time I hang out with someone who works at think you're fick, or even used to work. Think if it they have the Hoodie on. So it's a great promotional tool. I wear it, I've had I think it's one of the best Fois I've got. So you where we came up with that. Did a great job awesome. Yeah, they're fun and the comfortable. Yeah, and you also have a previous guest of my Lewis House is one of your, I think, customers. Right, he's he's used you guys for a number of years. Or yeah, Lewis uses us, and Todd Herman now and bunch of other course, creators who are doing great things with the platform. Okay, so when I was sort of introduced to Greg, what's not truy? I might Gregg first in San Diego because they host some amazing dinners there when some conferences are on. But when I first spoke to one of Thinkif Vic's employees, tyler, you might know him. Hello Tyler, he mentioned that Greg has a really unique entrepreneur background that goes back quite far. So, Greig, I'd love to go back in time and sort of explore what led up to think if thick, and you mentioned that you may have had, I don't know if it's a lemonade stand or baseball cards he was selling. What was the the Childhood Entrepreneurial Project though? The childhood one. Yeah, well, I do have an obsession now, where my wife bugs me about it sometimes, is I can't drive past a kid's lemonade stand without going and contributing or buying from the stand to support the business, and even if that means sometimes driving to a bank machine and then driving back. So it's it's actually I try and carry a little bit of cash because I'm so driven on plastic now. Everything's on credit card these days, but if I can, I try and carry cash everywhere just in case I come across a lemonade stand, so especially coming into summer. But I didn't actually do a lemonade stands when I was a kid. I had we had this crazy experiment when I was about twelve where we I think we built this thing called Snow Bird Mountain and it was a big hill and my friends sort of backyard and hidden in the trees and we built all of these courses for essentially marbles to go down and go over ramps and through tunnels and around corners and they're sort of like a racetrack for marble racing, and then we'd invite all the neighborhood kids over there were a little younger than us to come and like race marbles and think there might have even been some betting. But but gambling was not our business model. We sold candy. So we'd go to Costco and pick up massive bulk things of candy and then so, you know, five and ten SINC candies and recover our costs and make a profit that way. And it was actually, you know, for a twelve year old, a pretty lucrative little business and it was a lot of fun, genius. I love marbles. That's a see. You made your own theme park, basically. Yeah, was that in Vancouver? It was, yes, Nice. Okay, so that kick started your your fun for the next company. Is that right? Yeah, yeah, I think we probably spent most of that money on our own candy or other things, but you wait, profits us. Yeah, that's surprising. So what was next in the in the entrepreneur resume? Well, lots of little steps along the way. I had a company that did when I was going through university. We did ecotourism, we called it, for ESL school. So Vancouver at the time, and it's still huge here, but I think downtown alone there was sixty or seventy language schools for people coming to Vancouver to learn English and and work or participate in sort of coop programs or even just staying homestays. So we would work with some of the those schools doing their kind of adventure and outdoor program so it's a ton of fun. I would go whitewater rafting and snowboarding and going all of these trips with people from all over the world and get paid to do it. So that was a fun next step in the entrepreneurial journey. Nice. Did you come across that just by chance or like, is that something a lot of people do in Vancouver? One of my good friends and roommate at the time was from Korea and so I think he'd come through one of those schools and saw it as an opportunity and so that kind of kickstarted that thing and then we did we did a bunch of other just him and I and a few other people through university did a bunch of things to pay for pay our tuitions. Had A custom clothing company, few other little businesses going through and then even coming out of school,...

...the first business I went into this was a job. So actually, straight out of business school I did get a job as a salesperson for a software company, but it was a six person company and I was pretty much the only person doing sales there. So I had it was kind of like we just built this product, go find US customers. So it was a lot of leeway working for a small start up, which gave me kind of the early experience of doing small startup software skills, which was a lot of fun. So when you were university, did you have the plan of being an entrepreneur as your kind of life plan for income or you thinking career, job? And even what we your parents in terms of their advice or as role models? What were they guiding you towards? Well, my dad's a doctor, my mom's and nurse and they're very education driven. So I think for them it was they're very supportive of me now and always have been, but I think education and career, you know, your more typical go to school, get a job kind of thing, was much more their focus and what they were excited about. And so, you know, going back to when I was in school, I went through business school and then came out, worked for a while and then I went back to law school. So I really I always had these entrepreneurial pursuits, but I don't think I ever really looked at it as something I was going to commit to until I started practicing law. But that being said, I mean mean even my dad being a doctor. I think he was sort of similar in that respect that he had the career in the education but in the garage there was always some crazy entrepreneurial pursuit from like a worm farm or crazy flying machine or kids toilet that trains them. All sorts of crazy ideas there that I think really inspired me on the entrepreneurial journey. Sounds to me like your father's projects were more side inventor type projects. He wasn't expout to quit being a doctor and go sell how to train your kids to use the toilet sort of thing. Right, but you just said before as a lawyer was the first time you started thinking about entrepreneurship. Did I hear that? Being correctly? Like you, you didn't like law so you thought about entrepreneurship or what was the connection? Yeah, so I got into practicing law and I think the reason I went in I did corporate and securities law, so I had a lot of like big corporate clients and in the three years I practiced law I got to see more corporate transactions than you do as a CEO probably in a lifetime. I went in for the ability to go and see all of these really exciting moments in corporate lives and I actually love the practice as at love the people I work with, the lawyers, the firms I work with, the clients. It was amazing and I got such amazing exposure because they would parachute me into a business when it was going through a crisis or raising, you know, two hundred million dollars or buying another company. So I got to see all of these really exciting times and advise the CEO or the board of directors through that whole process and I would do a new one of these every month or so. So it was a it was a amazing learning curve and I was loving that. But then actually, I think there was a moment there where I read the book the alchemist. Anyway it for those of you read it, it kind of walks you through this concept of sort of finding your place in life and what you really should be doing and what you're going to be super happy at, and I remember reading it and setting a deadline of you know, I'm going to give myself another year, year and a half. I think I put an actual date in my notebook and said I'm going to give myself a deadline and then I'm going to jump and go do something entrepreneurial and start something and maybe I'll come back to law, but I really wanted to give it a shot and, you know, cut away the golden handcuffs and go for it, give up the salary, cut away the paycheck and go for the entrepreneurial pursus and see what could happen there. So when you started having those kind of thoughts and you're talking about doing things like cutting the salary, how did you plan to that transition? And also, at that point, were you just like a single guy, because obviously a lot of people, you know, they start to have life's and children and or husband's whatever. Maybe that creates, I guess, more pressure to not quit a job and and the risk seems higher to start a business. So how will you planning for that transition to become an entrepreneur? Yeah, I didn't. I didn't do a great job of planning. I probably could have saved a bit more. The one thing I did when I did quit as I just went and lived with my parents for a few months, maybe even six months. So...

...probably could have done a better job of planning, but I really just kind of took the leap of faith and jumped and I was single at that time. I'm married now with two kids. But even when I met my wife years later, we we it was sort of a constant learning curve of how broke I actually was, because when we first met it was sort of you know, she'd asked me to go up to whistler and go skiing and, you know, stay in a lodge and I was like, I can't come and pro who while I was kind of a point of contention where, you we actually broke up over it for a little while, where she thought that I wasn't interested because I wasn't willing to go and spend money on these activities, and I had to explain now I'm an entrepreneur and I'm still broke at this point. Now it's different and better now, but even when we went for our first mortgage, she got to look at all of my prior tax returns and she's like wow, you really had a period there where you made nothing. I wow, how did you keep her attention then, because that could be a high criteria in some and some women want the guide to have some some money, you know. Yeah, well, I guess I'm you just have to be good in other ways. So I'm a pretty nice guy and care a lot about her. So I think she was able to see see past my impecuniosity and and to the future. And the other thing is too, is I think there's a difference between being broke with no goals, plans, ambitions or not, you know, not working as different. It wasn't like I was playing video games all day. I was working sixteen hour days. I was just spending everything I made on employees and growing the business. So what was the project you left the law career for? It was the first one. So first one actually was a couple of buddies of mine from law school. We're starting a company and putting touch screens inside taxi cabs, and so we would pay the cab companies, and we did this in, you know, all across Camina, Canada, and we'd pay the cab companies put these touch screens in them and then we'd sell advertising on them. But also, well, I was in law school and even prior to that I was building my own online course. And so even years prior to this, even way before I went into law, well, first year law school, I built an online course and that was really what really drove my ability to kind of take that leap of faith and jump into entrepreneurial pursuits. It's because I was starting to generate some revenue from that course. Now didn't translate to a lot of disposable income for me because I was funneling it back into the next business pursuit, which in the end was Thinkivic, but that did help definitely and in doing that was that early online course that I created. Okay, a couple questions. So yeah, what year was the online course that that first one you made? I think it was, oh five, two thousand and five, that I launched that first one. Well, because that was really early days, because I didn't lunch, of course, until ow seven and you know, there were not think gifticks at that time, back in two thousand and five. You know, I know it might have even been two thousand and three, because I was definitely teaching the US at in two thousand and three and that's when I started law school, so it might have been as early as then. But yeah, I remember we, my brother and I, looked everywhere for a solution and in the end I was lucky. My son Ber there's a software developer, Matt, and he he just built the solution for us. So we give ourselves a thirty day deadline and we said thirty days we're going to build this so software. It was pretty crappy software. We're going to build this software and build the course and get it out there and see if anyone even cares about this thing. And it did. A few people cared. Ten people bought the course in the first week of lot or first month launch I think, and then they continue to grow from there. What was the course on the Alsat law school admissions test. So was helping people write the test to get them into law school. And it's a super, super competitive space at the time, not so much in the online course world because online courses were still somewhat earlier days then, but extremely competitive space in test prep. But tons of opportunity there because people really do need to get that education. Yeah, I remember. I used to. I had a an essay editing company back around that time. Two Thousand and three, two thousand and four. I remember putting up posters in Toronto and there was so many posters from other people for else at and l cat, I think that was the other one. Might have been a medical one as well. Mcat cat, yeah, we don't have that. I grew up in Australia and there there isn't, I think, the equivalent of that. So I never was quite clear and what that was for...

...a while, but man, they were a lot of posters about those two things. So clearly it's a big need. Definitely great market. Yeah, I think my first higher ever, and this was like a total part time thing that didn't even last that long, was I hired a guy a UBC who wrote around on a skateboard putting up posters for me because I just got fed up with putting up posters everywhere. I also tried to outsource the putting up of posters. It was hard to find people a reliable they never quite did it the same dedication as I did, I think as a man. Yeah, yeah, yeah, or I would get messages from the university saying that they'd been too dedicated. Yeah, posting it all over in places where it shouldn't be. Yeah, I've had that problem a couple times too. You triggered a few things that I want to talk about. First that's close the door on this course. So you said you got ten customers. How did you get ten customers. So it all started I was teaching a class in person and that was going so so, but it was pretty difficult to get people into the class because there's a limited number of people who take the alse at every year and so you know, then you're also limited by who happens to be in your city, who happens to be local enough to go to wherever you're offering the class and who happens to care about it on this particular weekend. So I started and then everyone I was talking to wanted private tutoring, they wanted to have a conversation, they wanted had all this extra help and I was finding a lot of my conversations were the same. So I created a little blog of just free resources and I would drive people there and I'd say hey, you know, you want some private tutoring, start on the blog, read a couple articles. You'll that'll save you the first three hours of tutoring I was going to give you anyway, and and then we can sit down. So they do that and then more and more people, even outside of Vancouver and all over the world, started reading the blog and it wasn't wasn't anything amazing. I was still excited when I went to Google analytics and saw that ten people went on the blog that day. But that was an enough to launch the course and I put the course out there and people. So really it was just the traffic from organic search of people coming to the blog and then seeing that I had a course that they could take. For I think at the first launch with twenty nine. So those first ten people and you know, netted less than three hundred bucks out of it, but still it was a sign that there was something here. Well, you were really a pioneer. That's early days to go through that process. I can imagine just the fact that you had a website or blog with that content would have guaranteed Google search traffic. It would have been the early days for Google too. If I'm I think back to the n they we've just got started. I think, yeah, I don't wonder they I don't know. I remember when they were getting started. I think it's definitely earlier than that. But it was certainly a lot easier than to get ranked, for sure. And then I immediately went, you know, branched out to youtube and started putting content on Youtube and that did exceptionally well and then I know I hit a point where Youtube and the blog were driving tenzero a month in sales just organically, which was great. Oh well, okay. Well, I'd love to break down little bit more of that and because I can see how it leads to think if they obviously too. But before I do that is one thing I wanted to ask you about, which I think we might have possibly zoomed past, but I think I read about it about you somewhere. But will you part of the it's like you run your own painting business here in Canada if you done that. I did work for alumni painters and that was so. That was it wasn't really quite like one of the student ones where you run it yourself. It wasn't his entrepreneurial I just got a job as a painter and then leveled up to like leading and crew, but it was still still very much a job where I'd you know, I had the boss who kind of owned and round the whole thing. He did the estimates and got the customers and I showed up and just painted. Right. I keep meeting people here in Canada to my friends from Toronto, Jaywong and Kirsten Ross, both did that. I think tyler also might have had something to do with that. From you know works, I think IFFIC. Now it seems to be like a training ground for Canadian entrepreneurs. Everyone sort of starts there. So I thought maybe you were part of that crew as well. So I feel like maybe before your lawyer career, or maybe even at the same time, you had a lot of little short term maybe's jobs like the painting project, but also entrepreneur projects. I'm guessing they must have always been like a conflict with you working what would very much be consider a career with law. That's you know, you don't study that much to then...

...give it up. Usually, yeah, I some people do, but but then at the same time you seem to always be doing something. What it was we know from the marbles right there, early days, and then you know everything, like running your own course. I can see you guess this. The course has an overlap with what you did as a lawyer. But most lawyers don't go out there and decide to, you know, hire a program with to create a core, especially in the early two thousand. So at the time you're doing that, what was your motivation? I'm assuming you earned enough money as a lawyer. So what was this tribe? Because you SI said you made like three hundred in the first end customers. So it's not exactly that's like one hour of lawyer time, right. Yeah, yeah, so the course I launched actually launched around first, second year law school, I think, and so at the time, you know, I'm paying law school tuition and during the school year didn't have a job. I would work summers. They help pay tuition, but so at the time I didn't have a lot. So launching the course was great, but also really I mean, I guess the the money was nice and it was great when it was really successful, but it was also really the impetus behind it for me in the early course days was very much that I was able to help other people and people got to know that I could help people get a higher else at score, and so they would reach out and I was actually running out of time because I was spending so much time studying for law that I wanted to create more of an automated, on demand, scalable way to reach people, and people not just because I was starting to get people even reaching out from other cities, and this gave me a tool where I could say look, I can scale and I can help lots of people and reach lots of people and even generate some revenue, which makes it that much more scalable by putting together an online course. And then when I actually got into a big law firms and started practicing there, I pretty much stopped all entrepreneurial work. I really had no time to do this the side projects very much. I did a liquid think my brother and I for a little while we tried calling it Mondays at nine and Monday at nine pm. We'd like work on this on the course a little bit, because that was sort of hopefully I was home by nine if I wasn't on a busy project. So so yeah, I didn't spend a lot of time working on the entrepreneur pursuits when I was actually practicing law, and I think that was part of the reason of the jump and leaving laws that I kind of missed it and wanted to get that opportunity. But the original course came when I was in law school, when I was still quite broken paying law school tuition. What happens to that course then? Did it sort of fizzle out after you came a lawyer? No, so they awesome thing about courses, especially you create them on demand. On something like think iffick is, I stopped work on that course pretty much entirely. I haven't produced a youtube video or a blog post or anything in overs, I think, six years now, and it's still cranks out revenue every single month and it's all organic. We really don't do any ads. It's just organic search. Youtube drives that. There might be a tiny bit of retargeting, but I think it's I think we've even turned all that off. So it's amazing. It's been on autopilot now for over six years and still generating really nice revenues. And when did you first launch it? How long ago? Thirteen years, I think that's a good run. Yeah, talk about an evergreen topic. Yeah, I know, getting it doesn't like. You don't need to update it like this. The'll set doesn't change. Laws don't change. I guess not right. It did. The also did update over six the last time it updated, I think, was more than six years ago, but it was a minor update. I did a quick fix to it, but that was more than six years ago and I haven't seen updates since then. So the nicely I'm I'm always a little terrified that if they completely revamp the L S at I just because right now I'm so folk. I've is seventy, a team of seventy here at thinkifick, and my focus now is on helping our clients create their own courses. So if they revamp the all set, then I guess that business model goes by by. Should probably sell that business, but let's let's not go down that tunnel, right. A Hell No, I've had a few offers for it, but I'm I'm really it's sentimental attachment, babe, and I know the potential for it. You know, I think it's doing about ten. I think if I could find someone who understood marketing reasonably well and put them on that project, it could probably text the revenues in a pretty short period of time. Okay, so any any people who are in the law field, education field who want to part with Greig get in touch and we put the call...

...out there. Actually understand marketing online? Right, fantastic, because, yeah, that's it does sound like a mouth. Thirteen years of Evergreen, that sales. That's incredible. Not Maybe not thirteen years of every green sales, but thirteen years of sales and six years of evergreen sales. It's like that's the dream, right. I didn't realize that you personally were such an example of selling an online course, so it's great to see. I'm guessing that was kind of like the doorway to starting think you fick. But before we jump into that, you said your first business after quitting being a lawyer was actually putting in TV's and taxis. Is that what you said before? Yeah, yeah, so we had to replace the headdress with essentially like an ipad inside a headdress and then sell ads on it. There'd be entertaining content and then we'd sell ads to big AD buyers. Did you get rich and her to get exit? No, that one didn't go so well for me. I had a lot of fun doing it, but I think a couple of things. Is One of the bigger ones just being that my passions always been really in like helping people and education and helping teach people and even, you know, with think IFFIC, the big thing I get to do is help people build businesses and build education and help them help their students and get their message and their passion out. I was really missing that. I had that in locks I could help my clients build their business and get their message out. And you know, and now I have it at think of vic where anyone who wants who has an x area of expertise or a passion they want to share, I can help them do that through think if it. But in selling ads there was something missing for me there that didn't resonate with what I wanted to be doing. So how long did you go before you left that project? I think that was only about a year, year and a half, okay. And what happened next? Then it was straight into think if it. We spent like a month revamping the ALSAT course, which is Alpha score. Is the Alsat course. They actually then don't into thinks. The website addressed before you gets new for the Alsat business. So we can check this out. said it's Alpha Scorecom Alpha, so like the spelling of the Greek letter, Alpha score, like hockey scorecom. And it again hasn't been you might see a blog post on there, like one or two, with a the lack of six years that someone just sent me and then I just reposted it on the site, but it really hasn't. We haven't done anything to it in quite a while other than make sure it's all set up on think if it's going to say everyone right, the course actually runs on the GIVIC Maalue. Still not using that first version of the flat? No, yeah, that first version was pretty painful. Okay. So, yeah, with the German nation of the think of the idea. What will you like? How did that come about? What you thinking? What was the need did you see in the market and why did you think you were a person to potentially solved it? Well, so we had the ALSAC course out and what I found was people kept reaching out to me saying, Hey, I want to do the same thing, and they weren't quite asking for what we did with. Think of it. I think of it is that SELFSERF platform. You know, put your content in, pick from a couple of themes to make everything look beautiful, launch your course, all the ECOMMERCE, everything's built in. What people were calling me for a way back then was, you know, can you things like, can you shoot my videos? Can you help me launch my course? Can you launch it for me and sell it for me and then just all take up a royalty? Or how did you do what you did? But it was all really around the core message. I was getting these inbound calls from was. I saw what you did with your Elsat course and ELPA score. How can I do the same with my Gmat course or my sat course or my kyeboarding course or my, you know, filmmaking course? You know, I'm teaching offline right now, but I want to take it online and I can't find a good solution. You know, can you just take my content and turn it into a course and sell it for me? And so that was really it was constantly hearing that message from people and we tried to work a bunch of deals where we'd get much more involved and we'd, you know, film it and sell it and and do all of the work for people. And I found that the best way we could serve them was actually just to build a selfserf tool, because what we really wanted to do was give people the same business ownership and success and control that we had with our own course, which is saying, you know, you get your own site, your own brand, your own course, all the revenues yours. You just go set it up and you're ready to go. What Fun in this journey did you now wife enter the picture. I just want to make sure, as you said, you've met...

...and you were very much hustling entrepreneur. Was it the starter? Think if it. Or was it earlier? No, it was a it was early days. Think EVIC. So it is early days. Think IVIC. I was still at the point where I wasn't we had employees, but I wasn't yet paying myself a salary. Okay, all right, so we'll show into the picture shortly. So okay. So it sounds like like a lot of people, when you get this demand coming at you, often the first way to think about servicing it is actually to offer a service, right, like we'll do the videos, we will build your website and then do a reven you share, kind of like the agency MODEL, I guess. Right. So it sounds like you tried that and realize that it wasn't your future direction. The thing is you decide then, I'm assuming, to build another platform, right, and I'm guessing you were planning to replace what you were running your own course on with that new platform. What did you learn from, you know, hiring that programmer back in the very early days with that first course? You know, thirty, you said you had thirty days build the platform. Now, when you're about to create think if it one point zero. How did you go about doing that? Do you hire someone full time? Did you get venture funding? How to think of it? Start? Well, so the first programmer is actually my brother, so that the first guy worked with was my brother Matt, and then so we did the same thing again years later when we wanted to take the idea of think if it can make it available to everyone. Is He did the code and I did this sort of sales and marketing and well, he actually did a lot of the marketing to but we just work together. We didn't I think we got a little bit of money from my dad, borrowed a bit from my grandma, but just enough to kind of keep things going in that first year. And then we really turned to customers for revenue. And that's where, in that first year we didn't have this sort of full on self serve platform where thousands of people can come and set up their own courses. So we did have to do a lot of the manual work for people, but that was great because it also forced us to charge a lot more, especially in those early days. So we'd go to people and you know, now you can use think if it can get set up and started and launch a course for free. Back then we'd often ask someone for ten or fifteen thousand dollars right out of the gate just to set something up for them. There was some client revenue pretty early on, but it was very sporadic and non scalable, and I think that's what we realized is I was pretty good at doing the sales thing, but I could sell someone on ten or fifteen or twenty Fivezero to do a project for them, but then we had to start all over again the next month or the next quarter, and so we really wanted to move into more of a scalable recurring revenue model where people just pay a subscription fee to use the service and then it self served, and that allowed us to serve way more people with a much more scalable model for us. Where did the think it viick name come from? That one we've looked a changing it a few times, but I do like it. Originally my brother came up with think mashed with terrific and I think that was what it was, and then thecom was available. Now we're sort of looking at think if I could, is a really nice sort of branding message associated with think if it could. Think if I could launch my own course, or think if I could teach the world, or think if I could share my passion with others, and I think that lines up a little bit better. We think if it can help people remember how to spell it, to write, that's a better kind of friend message. But I do like thinking and terrific as hilarious. Okay, I can imagine you guys sitting at a table brainstorming ideas and all right, let's go with this one. Okay, so you've you and your brother. You're kind of doing custom, bespoke, high priced products, and then you're going with services. Really then you're thinking, okay, we need to get this more less hands on work, more recurring revenue, we need a platform. At this point, is still just you and your brother, or is your team expanded? Like how did it grow? Yeah, we hired. We did hire a designer pretty early because I think we recognized that my brother's decent at design, but we needed that. That was a first piece of help that we needed. And and the interesting thing was the whole time we were doing these bespoke or custom solutions, we were building the platform. So we knew right out of the gate what we wanted to do. We kind of had a few deviations and false, false positives along the way where we got pulled in other directions. But right out of the gate we were building the platform. So it is interesting even the code were writing from day one was, you know, in use years later when we really hit on the right business model and everything clicked and started working together. But...

...those first three years were pretty rough and a lot of a lot of false positives and false starts. And can you may be getting maybe explain when you mean by like a false positive? Look, what's an example? Yeah, so false positive for me is if you're maybe you're good at sales or you have a relationship or you really push hard on something and then you get a little bit of success or a little bit of revenue, but there's not a lot to kind of follow on from that. So one thing we had is we have had some early success working with professional designation organization. So these are like not for profits that work with a lawyers or h our managers or accountants, and so we had a few of those early on who are really willing to work with us and had budget and so we thought, okay, with this could be a great you know, niche within the market. If you think crossing the chasm and like going really after this specific vertical, this will be a great place to start. And so that was kind of a false positive, because what we learned once we started investing a lot of effort in that industry, was that in the not for profits, in this professional the professional associations, is they were really excited about the project and they'd shake hands and say yeah, we're going to do this, but it would be twelve to twenty four months and four board meetings or eight board meetings later before anything would happen. So it was just way too slow the sales cycle and not at big enough for turn on it to make it worthwhile. So that was one of the kind of false positives we had that it seemed like a good thing and then as we went down that path, realized we should probably get back to our real vision here of making that selfserf platform for anyone to go launch their course. So with these false positives, it sounds like I don't know how you're doing it, but we're clients just kind of showing up, like, you know, someone sees a course that you've built for someone and then they direct you like a referral, like, was that where all the marketing was happening, or were you, as you said you were the sales and marketing guy? Were you literally sitting on the phone all day trying to draw all the clients during those early days? A bit about so I like I think in that particular space there was a referral that came in and that worked well, and then I got on the phone for two months and just called everyone in the book that I could find, and that's where we learned that maybe it was a false positive, because we got a lot of really positive initial feedback but not a lot of things closing in any reasonable period of time. Right. Because how did you think about your target market? I can imagine, you know, so many potential avenues for selling digital information today, and certainly more so maybe when you started, because people just didn't have the general awareness that this is something you can do, certainly not easily. Right. So you'd have had everything from the hobbyists to corporate, you know, be tob type platform options, right. So how did you decide? Even making a phone call like today, I'm going to phone nothing but real estate companies and see if they want to do a course like how did you decide that? Well, early days we were really kind of going for this. Like you know, I think our ideal avator ever days was sort of this somewhat celebrity expert. So ideally they had content. Now it might not be online content, but they were teaching people. It could be a textbook, it could be a live class that they did and then they had some sort of celebrity and that they were known, at least in their industry, as a key expert in that. And the idea there, though, was that we were going to partner with them and do a lot of the work for them. And what we saw over chasing that Avatar is that, yes, we could do it at our very non scalable level, but we actually could generate much better results for ourselves and for a clients if we built more of the SELFSERF platform and just gave them all the tools to do a lot of it themselves, with the training to go out and do it. And so what we find now is that if someone has the expertise, they can go out and generate the audience. Now, if they have an audience, all the better, but there's enough understanding of an opportunity and ability now out there that if you have some expertise or some passion, you can actually get out there start generating your own audience and the end result will be that much better for you because then you kind of own the entire platform, your own brand. So like I see someone like we have one client out of Australia, actually, Dan Love, who does Hula Hoop Training and I think she actually started shooting video with an iphone in a park of her Hula hooping and put online and built an online course showing people how to do really cool hoop...

...tricks and for, you know, fitness and dance and fun and and now she's got a whole team, she travels the world. Her full site and brand and product looks amazing and she's really just, through creating content, been able to get out there and build this massive audience and really successful business around her Hula hooping hobby. For the love of the loops. That's that's awesome. You need someone doing Yo Yos and let's set other old school. I'll be tell me a bit more about that. The point we said, okay, let's build a do it yourself hosting an online course platform. That point where you really realize that's the direction you want to take the company and maybe not a false positive, a positive positive. Did you just tell your brother go build it, or how did that begin? It's probably more like he told me. I think we had that idea right out of the gate. That was what we discussed six years ago day one, kind of opening things up and said we really want to have this sort of multi tenanted as in like lots of different people can create their own site, but it's white labeled. They can make it look how they want, they can build their course how they want. Give them total control, and that's actually what we wanted out of the gate. And my brother looked at me and said, yeah, I can't build that on my own in, you know, any reasonable period of time to sort of generate revenue. So that's where we started building it, but then used what we were building to do some of these more custom solutions. So we'd have the basis of a platform that we were building and while we were creating that, we'd go and do these custom solutions and then it wasn't until two or three we kind of got distracted and we could have done it a lot faster, but we got distracted with some of these false positives and then two or three years later we came full circle back and it was actually my brother who came to one day and said think actually, what he said is I think we should be shopify for online courses, and shopify was really exploding at this point, and he said, you know, I think we should basically be shopify for online courses, and that's when we kind of went full board into into that pattern. Another Canadian company too. Right. Yeah, interesting the way you sort of explain almost like a formula for bootstrapping a software company, because you have this vision, and I have actually been there at a software start up in two thousand and twelve and just like your brothers said, we just couldn't build what we needed to make money in any short period of time and you kind of found a really great sort of stop got solution where we build it but we do more of the work hands on so we can get a higher value client. The danger, like you said, was the seeing that is potentially your business model where ultimately you need to kind of pull it back and go no, no, this is a cash flow source to get to the point where we can actually release the full blown platform that we want. So how long did it take for that first version of think of it to be created and was it just your brother still building it over a long period of time? Where did eventually have help? So we don't. Yeh, we'd hired other developers and actually I think one of the first guys we hired it was another maps, my brother's, Matt, and then we had another mat, matt pain, and he's now our CTO. So we did a pretty good job of some of those early highers and one of the earlier ones as well. Our director of marketing is now our CEO, Miranda Levers, and so their co founders now as well, and make him really early days and we're just I'd love to say that I knew what I was doing hiring then, but I think we just got super lucky with some of the early people who joined our team, which made it an amazing so how long did that platform take to build? Well, I mean we've been building it for six years and it's all the same codebase. I mean they cut away a bunch of chunks of it. So obviously each year grows exponentially on top of the prior year, because I think our product team is twenty five, while we're seventy people on the whole team, but our product team is over twenty five people now. So well, when was that? We were Stala Se me, like what point did you actually go to the public and say we have a Plat, that the do it yourself platform. Oh yeah, well, that was even that wasn't a defining moment. I mean we had so we went through a whole period where we had a platform, but only we could really build and manage within it. So we didn't have the user experience that was open enough to like it have everyone just sign up and build their own stuff. So early what we were doing, when we hit platform stage, where we're like you could of your own site and branded and create the course, we were still doing the work inside of it. So we would actually email people, call people up, pop on a skype chat with them, get them to drop box us their...

...content, then we would upload it to our system, build out a site for them, send it back to them and then we'd hop on another skype call to walk through it with them and ask them for their credit card to start charging charging them out. So that went on for these almost six months like that, and then we launched the ability for people to sign up on their own, bulk, upload all of their content on their own, build out their course and pay us, of course, and that was a really nice day when we kind of put that out there. So even that took a while. It was a very sort of staged approach and obviously, looking back, we probably could have shaved years off this whole process if we'd knew exactly where we were going and what it would take to get there, but we didn't. We learned a lot on the way, which leads to a question. What would you do differently, owning in that early stage now, with hindsight, if you were advising someone else who' Sup wants to follow in your footsteps? I think figuring out really early on a few key things. And people talk about product market fit, and that's to me. You know, the definition of that is when your customers are pulling you in a direction and it becomes easier to make decisions about what you're creating. You're not struggling by calling people up and saying, please tell me you know what you want. I mean you should be having those conversations, but it really hits you when it's like this unstoppable force that's pulling you in a direction and you basically we just get to start doing what people are looking for. Now you still need to think about the future and have your own vision, but but having that piece is huge. But then I think people talk about that being this early thing that you need to get right, and I think you know, in advising someone early on, we could have gotten that right way sooner if we'd been better at talking to and listening to customers. But then I think the other pieces you need to fit that in with the channel that you're going to use to reach them. So the marketing piece, and I think another big thing we could have done early on is that we didn't really know how we were going to acquire customers in the end or what we were going to create exactly for them. So I didn't worry too much about building an audience in a marketing channel, and I think people do this a lot better now. But I would have started right out of the gate writing about and making videos about and generating content generally in our because in our industry, because we knew we're going to do something in education and creating courses. So if I'd been building that base way back then, we would have had a way bigger sort of following an audience when we actually figured out what our product market fit was. Yeah, so that those two things would have been things we could have done a lot faster early on. I guess, if you don't have a clear direction on who you're servicing, more of an a. You know what your product is, but who do you want to help and how do you want to help them? And, like you, I think this is one of the real challenges with the software company. I know I felt it is that you have in your head this idea of what it is supposed to write, and you must have felt that way for a long time, given how how many stages you went through. You must be thinking, Oh, why can't we just have an Upload Button to upload this content rather than them said as a dropbox file? Right, yeah, you have to go through that staged development process unless you, I guess, get some crazy amount of venture funding and hire ten developers out of the gate, which is not usually likely. Right. So that's the real challenge, I think, for any software company to get that part right. And I think even if you feel like you had those first positives, it sounds like you did have a fairly effective staggered growth mechanism, moving from almost like a consultant service company to a full blown software company and and just rebalancing that over time and that that's not necessarily a bad way to grow a software company out. I would today you suggest even today right. Yeah, definitely, and even the building feature. You know, even if we if we had funding right out of the gate, which is pretty tough to get funding just based on an idea and you don't even have your model in place. But it can happen and we did get funding later. But even after having significant revenues and even today, where we have lots of software developers, we still do some of these things where you do things in more of a manual way until you realize that it's actually or more of an MVP way, like a minimum valuable product. And so with that upload thing, it was we probably could have spent a couple of weeks just building it right out of the gate, but it was more efficient...

...for us to validate that people really did want us to upload the videos and this model was going to work and then they were going to get back to us and give us their credit card before we went and built it, because that if we just gone out of the gate, even with ten devs, and started building that stuff. It would have still delayed things by, you know, a few more weeks just for that feature and a few more weeks for the next feature. But by doing it for them, it let us create a whole course site for them in a matter of a day rather than saying, okay, we're going to go build all those features, will be back to you in two months. Right now. It's a really great point. You MVP each feature. That's manually do it first and then proved that you need to develop. But that's very smart. A couple of things. You mentioned your hiring process early on and even today. I'm kind of curious, as you grow a company now, which is, you know well and truly becoming a big company now, and thankouver here, do you, especially early on, are you, you know, acquiring, requiring, attracting people as a promoting yourself as a you know, like a young tech start up who's offering maybe being a little bit of shares in the company for the early hires? How did you think about that part of the growth of your company and even today, how do you think about it? Earlier? The first sort of I think the first sort of twenty, twenty, five, thirty people. It was very sort of nonscalable growth akey. We'd talk on Linkedin and Angel List and go to, you know, meetups and post jobs on craigslist and and meet people that way. Crossing that threshold of about thirty people, we actually had tea and then Amanda and Miranda Actually Co found her mind, took on a lot of this responsibility of doing the heavy lifting of hiring and they got us up to getting thousands of applicants every month. They were doing a lot of promotion and going out there. And then we implemented actually top grading as a hiring process. So there's a good book called who by Gh smart that walks you through this. Then you can actually take courses on to get better at it, which we all did, and that was a real turning point in terms of our ability to hire amazing people, both in terms of identifying people through a hiring process where my gut told me it was probably going to be a good idea but the hiring process said run the other direction, and then vice versa, where your guts telling you it's a bad idea or you're not really or the person isn't very good at selling themselves in the interview process. But by digging in using this methodology we can actually identify some of the sort of, I guess, diamonds in the rough, and it's really skyrocket, are kind of retention and employee engagement and overall quality of hiring process. I'm serious, in the first sort of thirty people, how do you decide who to hire first? Like, is it a case all weed programmers now all we need customer service now, let how do you use it? Just reactionary or is there is there more of a plan to it? I'd say it was pretty pretty reactionary, very much like what is the single biggest limiting factor in the company right now and then can we even afford to fix that problem? So early days it was, you know, I had the the business side, my brother had the the back end code side, but we were always limited by front end development. So those were some of that was some, you know, early higher than it was. We need to do better on the marketing and digital marketing side as opposed to just Greig doing this non scalable hop on the phone and email stuff, and then, of course, more on the software development side. Pretty early but it was very much in needs driven. What's the single limiting factor in the company? And, to be honest, to some extent, I mean we do. We obviously plan a lot more now and solve for some of the of problems six months or a year out by hiring now. But even in looking with the hiring plan now, part of it is what's the single biggest limiting factor in this area of our company? That'll help us determine what we need to hire for. Right there, you of constraints. Still an action. Yeah, what do you find in terms of incentives? I mean, and maybe it's changed, did you offer like some sort of ownership of the company? Do you still like how or people have motivated by something else? What do you think the best driver to get quality people? Today we do stock options, we pay pretty well, we have a lot of wonderful fun benefit and super cool culture, but I would say the biggest things that end those things all kind of help. A lot of the studies on stock based compensation is that it's sort of Nice to get in. People appreciate it when they get it, but it doesn't actually drive long term behavior or drive a lot...

...of motivation unless you do a really good job of talking about it and properly explaining it and I think it worked better in publicly traded companies when everything is going in the right direction. But what ex actually worked really well for us is two things. As an amazing company culture, and then I think our vision in our message and what we're getting to do and the feedback we get from our customers is super impactful for everybody who works here and we were all kind of behind the idea that we can make a real difference in our clients lives and in their students lives. So that's a big piece. And then the culture side, we just have a super fun time as a company and people quite enjoy working here and we run internal employee NPS surveys constantly just to make sure and and then we have, you know, anonymous submissions of what good and what's bad and then we go out and fix things. Very cool. Then you mentioned before adventure funding. At what point did you decide that was something you wanted to, you know bring on board, because you said you only had the family support with the very early days? Did you have to get some other funding? Like how did the growth occur? Yeah, I think the Nice thing for us was we never really had to and haven't had to. We were approached by some founders of other companies who had either we're doing really well, or had sold their company, and so they were interested in coming on board and just in developing a relationship over time saw that they were able to add amazing value, either through introductions or business advice or guidance and, you know, even just helping us through difficult decisions, and so that was really the reason for us to bring on some investors. I'm obviously the cash is helpful and Nice, but we're lucky and that once we hit revenue, it's been growing so quickly that it's really help facilitate everything that we want to do. Nice. So it's more like the people coming on board that are not just for our finance reasons, which for actually advice, support, mentoring that sort of thing. Yes, yeah, yeah, so it's guys like, I mean Fraser and Dan from Ricon who started vff for what was Vancouver Founders Fund, is now vff, and and Jay there as well, and then a few other founders in Vancouver like Ryan from Hootsweet and Jeff from buil direct, have been amazing and super helpful at at helping US grow the company. Speaking of growth, with a company like yours, where it's sort of transitioned into a full blown do it yourself platform, you must have changed your marketing a little bit to represent that. To you, you would have had to kind of change your pricing point, your customer Avatar. Sounds like maybe did eventually settled on what you described earlier, that sort of teaching specialist person. But how did you kind of especially because you were the sales guy, how did that change the way you grew the company in terms of just finding new customers? Yeah, we so early days when we were doing a lot of work for people, even shooting videos and marketing and sometimes just getting on the phone and selling their courses for them. We took a big cut of the course. But what we saw, and and that cuts slowly reduced over time as we did last four them and made it a bit more self serve. But then what we eventually saw is that when you're taking a cut of someone's revenue, it attracts people either who fully expect you to do all the sales for them or there they don't have a big vision for where they want to go, and this isn't applied to everyone or early customers, but just I think the general message it puts out there is, you know, come here if you don't think you're going to actually be that big or you just want to kind of park your stuff here. I actually had a few calls with customers saying like so, you just take a cut of my revenue, so if I never make any money, I can just park all my stuff on your site for free forever. And I said Yeah, they said, oh, that's great, like, I don't think this is going to be a good relationship here where you're gonna park all your stuff, we're going to pay for all your video hosting and bandwidth and all this stuff and and you know support it, but you're never actually intending on doing anything with this business or this course. It's free cloud stories, basically, yeah, baby, yeah. So so we actually moved to more of a there's a premium model. You can start for free and then we have a monthly fee, and that really was a big turning point for us in offering that, and we actually saw a noticeable spike and change in the slope of our...

...revenue curve, and I think it's because it actually suited ideal clients a lot better that way. So I forgot. I haven't brought in the your wife and this I was kind of curious. She was there from the beginning of think you fake right. I'm not the very beginning, but but fairly early days. Yeah, she remembers me coming home pretty frustrated sometimes in the early it is and happy, you know, wins and losses and all of that. Yeah, you didn't meet her at work, did you know? I met her online, e harmony. Actually Nice. Yeah, okay, so how did she I mean, obviously she's the one that was before tender. Yeah, right, well, yeah, that different platform. But how did she react? I guess because you said like doing the early days, you were this entrepreneur who had not enough money to go to whistler for a weekend because you were too busy working and putting, I guess, all the money back in the company. How did she kind of play a part in the growth of, I guess, you as an entrepreneur? And how did the relationship, because I think it's something that can have an impact on a relationship quite significantly, because entrepreneurs are like almost married to their companies, right. So how did that interact with with your eventual marriage, I guess. Yeah, she's been super supportive the whole way along. So she's she's is interesting because I think some of the relationship I had shortly before that ended pretty quickly when they found out I didn't I didn't have a lot of cash on hand. But she was not at all like that. She's super supportive throughout the whole journey and always has been in still is to this day. We especially now with two kids at home. So she's she actually works at one of the top four accounting farms. Well, she'll have me say the top one, KPMG. But she's taken a one year Matt leave with the two kids at home and is super supportive by taking care of them so that I can get more done at work. But yeah, she's just been awesome the whole way through in supporting me and all of that, and I don't think the either the personal cash flow or the even the amount that I work was too much of an issue. I think the fact too that, you know, being a CPA and working for a big firm, she had totally understands hard work and long hours and that stuff. So even after a first kid came along. We would put our daughter to bed and then both of us would pull out our laptops and put a few more hours of work in before we go to bed. And you know, I don't know, that doesn't sound like the most romantic evening, but we do have our are that. I think it's important. You also have your a couple time and that stuff built in and your trips together or time together. Yeah, a couple time on the laptops in bed. It's it's very romantic. Yeah, it's never been like an opportunity or even a desire to potentially have our work with you and think if even this seems to be like an overlap in her interests as well. She did help with our like financial statements a few times and I think through that process, after doing it for the second year, she said I would never work for you. So we have an amazing relationship and it's really healthy, but I think we both realized we didn't want to work together. So actually it's a good friend of hers now who was at KPMG before, who's now our director of finance. So she gets along great with the person who now does our financial statements us. But yeah, I think we realized in our small amount of working together that we're better off being married and not also working together. It is interesting some couples I've met who are a hundred percent. They have a company together, they spend all their time together, they raise their kids together, and then there's some other couples who like no, we don't work together, and that's good because that gives us the time apart. And you know, we have our own things we focus on and we don't want to be a hundred percent in our entire lives together. So it is funny how that can work either direction and seems to be fine for the sake of a marriage. Greg let's move towards the end of the interview here with with thinking the obviously still on this incredible growth curve. What do you now personally want the company to become and where do you see you going? Like is this something? I know you're probably not thinking about exiting at this point or anything like that, but obviously at the bigger it gets will be more things like do you want to float the company? I mean, we've seen shop. If I do that, and I think is hoop sweet floated here as well, I'm not sure. Obviously that's an option even what...

...are your personal goals for it? I did I really have two big ones. Is I we love. I love personally helping other people, especially in kind of business and education pursuits. So those are the two big goals I have associated with it. Is is the more we can help someone out there who has a passion or an expertise and they want to go out and share it with the world or make a difference in more people's lives, and then helping them to build a business around that and helping order to grow their business further around that and then to go out and actually make a bigger difference. So the two pieces there is the business growth and actually achieving transformation in students lives and education in students lives to make a difference. And I really see I think education is the strongest force on the planet for Affecting Global Change and world change and personal change, and that's really a how, I think you affect massive changes is having lots of individual personal transformation and change. So we want to empower our clients to go and make that happen and then on the client side, by growing their business, if there's a sustainable business behind your education and and sharing of knowledge and teaching others and sharing your passion. Then it becomes something that can scale and it can reach more people and it can be sustainable and go on for a long time. So to me the big goal right now is the more we can do of that, the better. And so when someone reaches out to us, the first thing they see is that we're totally dedicated to helping them in achieve their success in their business and in educating others, and that probably actually, I mean it ties right to a lot of our core values and things we do here and will spend money, even if it doesn't mean more profit for us, on achieving these things. So, for example, we spend a lot more on customer support then I think any other company in our space does, because we want to make sure all our clients are super well supported. So it's really about driving to those two goals of creating real businesses that can actually go out and make change and transformation and other people's lives and doing them as much of that as possible. Okay, so basically focus on the core business and whatever happens from that point forward, you'll, you know, see what happens. Kind of thing like in terms of future growth. It's just the case of just doing the best you can for your customers right now. Yeah, and I mean I wouldn't put IPO off the table at some point potentially, or just continuing to grow, but I think those are still far enough away. I mean we're probably big enough now we could even consider an Ipoh, but I've done them as a lawyer for clients before and not really at that stage where we'd want to look at something like that. Fair enough. Well, last question for the listener who is loving your story in particular to think a big story and they might have an idea for some kind of software platform or any kind of platform. I guess. What would you advise them to do right now to get started in terms of you've certainly got the hindsight experience, in particular with questions, I think, around funding, because software seems to be something that people feel they really do need to get funding, and potentially a lot of it, especially if they don't have a brother who's a developer and, you know, to make the first version of your platform like. What would you advise to them? Oh, she's on the funding start. So I think I think we were misled a lot in the early days of think of Vic that you could just put a pitchtick together, go to event, throw up an idea and someone would cut you a big check to go build your software company. I think, barring the weird exception, and the weird exception being you know, you used to work at a company where you had prior successes and you have investors who are just willing to bet on your prior track record, which has to be pretty, I think, extreme or you know other extreme examples. For the most part I don't think that happens a lot just based on an idea and a pitch deck. So what I would say is figure out a way to do the non scalable things to start the building of that company, to get those first customers, maybe on a more of a service basis initially. Or find that cofounder. You know they have a lot of services and meet ups and Events and things. To go find that technical founder. It doesn't have to be your brother. In some respects that's maybe not the best idea, but go and find that technical founder and then I would say just get building. I mean with the tools that are out there now, you can build basic level Sass software pretty damn quickly and then go and get some of those first customers and get value out of that. And I'd say, you know, getting started with that. I think you're way...

...better investing early efforts in building a marketing channel, getting content out there and starting building a base of customers, learning from those customers, starting to build that early product from them and maybe doing some nonscalable even service or custom work for them. Then you are worrying about pitching investors. I think the only time the investment really worked for US was when we didn't need it and then the investors just came to us and said, hey, we're interested. So you still have to put yourself out there when you get to that point so that they can even see that you exist and be interested. But at early days I wouldn't be worrying so much about investment. I'd be just getting something built, getting some revenue going, getting some customers going, figuring out ways to prove out that you have some kind of idea market fit. I should ask you also a very obvious question. This will be the true last one. For those people out there who might be thinking about creating an online course, how do you recommend they get started? And you know what, it can be the same people. I online courses can be a really good way of actually marketing and building a software company. I mean who's we uses us, latercom uses us, which pond uses us. Lots of software companies into it. I think even Samsung does. So you can actually use courses now as a great marketing and sales tool and customer education tool, so even in building some of those early customers. So that can be some of that early content you create to help bring in some early customers. But yeah, for anyone who's interested in creating their own online courses, check out thinkiffic and we're there to help you get started. You can start out for free and then we've got actually training on think Evic to show you how to use thinkivic and launch your own courses, and then our support team is there to help you out all the time and you just like literally, if I had nothing right now but I wanted to get started with online course, would you be saying to me go create your first video and then uploaded to think if thick? Is that just sort of your suggestion? I'd even say go sign up for Thinkivic and then we'll give you a course showing yet how to make your first video. So even even just out of the gate, I mean if you're I'd say the only place where it's a bit more challenging writer to the gate is if you have no idea what you want to teach. You know, you don't have a particular passion you want to share, you don't have an area of expertise. That's where it becomes a bit more challenging. But if you long as you've got that passion or that expertise that you think you can share with people, and even if you don't, there we have ways of helping you. We have actually a course on kind of how to pick your course topic. So I would say sign up, check it out, play around with it and then we can help you get started. Awesome, Greg, getting last words. Thanks so much for me. This was a lot of fun. I really appreciate it. And Yeah, let's I'll obviously put the show notes, will put the links in here, but just let's spell out think, you wick, just in case. Just think to think if I could accept take off the all everything but the first letter of think, if I could, so it's think ificeecom. Yeah, awesome. Thank you, Greg, for taking the time to share some of the background story. Interesting that the lawyer turn software entrepreneur and, prior to that, Marvel Entrepreneur. Fantastic, or maybe can the entrepreneur. I'm not sure which I should categories put you in, but I appreciate you spending the time with me to share that story and I think everyone will got a lot out of that. So thank you and good luck with thank you, Vic I know I look forward to seeing more of those thinking it hoodies all around Vancouver and the world. So cute, a good work. Awesome. Thanks, Garah. I just finished listening to an audiobook about the foundation of Home Depot, a company you probably know about. It's a very large, multiple in dollar company in the United States that sells home renovations and repairs products. So I learned about how this company was founded, and the message I kept hearing was customer service is their number one value and also the number one reason why they believe they are successful and became market leaders. This reminded me of the message I heard from another book I listened to many years ago about the foundation of Zappos, the online retailer of shoes that later got acquired by Amazon. The founder and that whole book talked about the importance of customer service, and I feel like this is a message that seems to be repeated over and over again in these entrepreneur founder bio books, that customer service is the most important thing to create a market leading, super successful business, whether offline or online, whatever the...

...case may be. And this made me think back to the very early days starting my business. I used to do customer service myself entirely through email, and at first I really loved it. I was replying to potential customers and current customers, answering their questions, convincing them to buy from my business, and it was fun. But then eventually I started to get a little overrun with a lot of queries. A lot of people ask me about my products and services, whether it's right for them, and then a lot of technical issues would come in like Noah, link is not working on my website, or how do they access this resource? Or you know, where can they download that? Or they can't open a PDF, and these kind of emails kept coming in day after day and eventually, in the more successful I got, the more of these emails I got and I got really tired of replying to the same questions over and over again. Now I knew that I could start building, you know, template replies to answer the most common queries, which I did, but I very quickly became overrun with this job. I'd wake up in the morning and I have to spend three hours just replying to messages. And you know, there were a lot of important in messages in there, a lot of potential customers I could be losing if I don't reply to those emails with a good, thorough, carefully crafted email to give them the information they need. So I was concerned if I stopped doing this, my business is not going to work. Yet I'm getting less and less time in my life to do anything else outther than email. So that's the day I realized I need to bring on someone else to help me with this very important customer service role, handling the email in my business, and that's why I'm so excited today to introduce you to a new sponsor of this podcast, inbox Donecom, which is a service where you can bring on board a person to take over email in your business and your life. I want to highlight how important that is to bring on a person who can take over customer service in your business, in particular email customer service. So if anything I said there resonated with your current situation, with how you deal with the email you know you're getting a lot of those kind of queries and you're feeling like you're potentially missing out on business or you're not doing as good or job as you could dealing with really important queries from people who potentially want to buy from you or even current customers who have bought from you, or the more mundane queries like I can't open this pdf or this link gave me a four or four I can't find this resource, kind of emails. They're boring, but it's important you've got someone's answering those questions and not only answering them, but building systems, creating templates and automatic sequences of emails that chase up potential customers or deal with potential refunds processes to really deliver exceptional customer service. And all of this can be happening without you being the person delivering those emails or writing those emails or creating those templates, certainly not the person who logs in every day and puts in all this time to deal with something that is never going to end your I was going to get email as long as you have a successful business, and in fact you're only going to get more and more as you become more and more successful. So I recommend, if this is your situation, you check out the INBOX donecom service. Can hire someone who can essentially become your entire customer support team just by hiring this one person from inbox done to take over email in your business. Now it can do a lot more than that for you, but I recommend to find out all the details. Just go to inbox donecom check out the website and you'll find an application form there where you can apply for your very own email inbox manager who could take over a customer service in your business which would potentially can change your life. You can take this completely off your plate and go to sleep relaxed, stress free, knowing that customer service is being handled by a dedicated person whose job is to deal with those emails every day for you. That's inbox donecom. Go check them out.

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