Stuart McKeown, Co-Founder, Gleam
A Gleaming Achievement
How Stuart McKeown’s try, try again attitude helped him go from college dropout to head of growth marketing powerhouse Gleam.io.
If at first you don’t succeed, launch a new beta test and see where it goes.
Isn’t that how the old saying goes?
It is for Stuart McKeown, anyway. An engineering student who dropped out of college after just one year, McKeown has never believed failure was something to be feared. Rather, it was just another, often more effective, way of gathering information in order to grow.
Through a winding journey riddled with setbacks, and even a brief stint behind a DJ turntable, McKeown and longtime business partner John Sherwood have accumulated a vast store of knowledge on all things growth marketing, culminating in a platform known the world over—Gleam.io. Used by more than 20,000 brands a month, Gleam helps businesses build clientele through email capture campaigns, competitions, and rewards programs.
McKeown is living proof that with the right combination of honesty, perseverance, a positive attitude, and a no-fear approach to cold calling, success is attainable. Even if it takes a little time.
In Search of a Goal
McKeown didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life, but he knew this wasn’t it.
While growing up in the U.K., he thought he wanted to become an engineer, or at least the people around him made him think he wanted to be an engineer. But once he got to college, he recognized that something felt a little off. He found himself adrift.
“As you’re growing up, a lot of kids don’t know what they want to do,” McKeown says. “I was one of those kids.”
So after sticking it out for a year, he dropped out, moved back home, and got a part-time job to give himself some time and space to figure things out.
He quickly realized that what he really needed was a shock to the system, and to strike out on his own. So he packed his bags and headed to Australia, with the perfectly rational plan of becoming a professional DJ.
That decision started a pattern in McKeown’s life. He tends to realize quickly when something isn’t working and has no trouble leaving it behind, taking away valuable lessons learned.
When he came to realize that, despite having a passion for the art of making music, life as a professional DJ wasn’t really sustainable unless you hit it big, he decided to move on to something new.
Australia, however, was definitely a good fit for him. He decided to stay in Melbourne and look for jobs, willing to give anything a try, and eventually found his way to retail marketing.
Then in 2005, he began working as an SEO analyst for Hitwise, an audience insight tool for businesses, giving him his first real taste of the strategy behind building and marketing web platforms. Except for a nine-month stretch working for a small business in a different industry, he worked at Hitwise until 2013, eventually becoming a senior project manager. But throughout this time, he was constantly tinkering with projects for himself on the side.
In the late 2000s, he became interested in the world of online couponing and coupon code aggregation. Through a process of trial and error, he started to explore what worked and what didn’t, eventually creating a website of his own for coupon codes.
But just as his site began to take off, a wakeup call came in the form of his soon-to-arrive first child. The impending shift in his life made him realize that he needed to start thinking seriously about how he spent his time. And he knew that he wanted to spend it building something new.
“You’ve got to make a conscious decision about what you want to build,” McKeown says. “I came to the realization when I was kind of working for the man that I wanted to build something bigger.”
Despite his desire to pursue big dreams, with a family to consider, he couldn’t dive in headfirst without some level of financial security. McKeown says that he wasn’t yet ready to “fully commit. I wanted to do something in my own time, and if it took off, then reevaluate whether I wanted to pursue it full time or not.”
And especially with a baby on the way, he knew he couldn’t do it alone.
A Perfect Partnership
Once McKeown realized he needed a partner in crime, he knew the search for the perfect partner wasn’t going to be an easy one. It was clear to him that he needed to partner with a developer, but there was just one tiny problem: he didn’t know any.
So began the epic hunt to find a developer willing to moonlight as a coupon website creator.
His journey was filled with cold emails and random developer meetups, both of which were, more often than not, met with odd looks and a chilly reception. Some of the developers he approached just told him no. Others quoted prices he couldn’t afford.
Somewhere between the 30th and 40th rejection, McKeown received a response that immediately caught his attention.
“ was the first response that was so different from everybody else’s,” he says. “Everyone else was quite like, ‘No. Pay me,’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, sounds cool. I’ve got nothing better to do.’”
And just like that, John Sherwood and Stuart McKeown became an inseparable team.
“It just so happens that John and I complement each other very well,” McKeown says. “He could have said yes, and we could have hated each other.”
But they clicked right away, and after three months working on a website that aggregated coupons from affiliate networks, they had a prototype ready to go. They launched the site in November 2009, and after only three months of business, they were making about $30,000 a month.
Despite McKeown coming up with the idea, he made the decision right away that his partnership with Sherwood had to be an equal one. They split the profits 50/50, an approach that they have continued to take in all subsequent businesses.
“We feel like we both own it equally, and we’re both willing to work towards the goal of whatever we want to build,” he says. “I’ve seen some people say, ‘Oh, I came up with the idea, so I want 70 percent and give them 30 percent.’ In my view, 70 percent of nothing is nothing.”
That 50/50 outlook also extended to how they approached the sharing of information, inspiring them to be completely open with each other, honestly discussing matters of finance and performance. McKeown believes this is a significant factor in their success as a duo.
“I’ve seen a lot of founder relationships diminish because one founder is looking after the finances and not telling the other one what’s going on,” he says.
For both of them, the primary goal of their business wasn’t to be the next big thing or to become millionaires. It was only ever about making enough money to go full time and replace their current salaries.
It didn’t happen right away.
Almost immediately after launching their couponing website, Google released an update to their Panda algorithm that targeted websites with low-quality content, duplicate content, or, much to the dismay of McKeown and Sherwood, content drawn from farming other sites. Overnight, their monthly revenue dropped to only about $2,000.
This was a major blow, heralding a slow, painful death for their brand new website. While McKeown acknowledges that the Panda update was ultimately for the best, forcing him to move on, it still stung in the moment.
After about nine months spent trying to recover, McKeown and Sherwood decided to let their first endeavor fade away in the background while they moved on to their next project.
A Gleam of Triumph
The duo next tried their hands at creating a pre-Pinterest Pinterest called Thing, but it wasn’t easily monetizable, and they needed cash to stay afloat, so they ditched it. They then built a version of their coupon code website for retailers, but that never quite made it off the ground. They even tried building their own web server, but nothing stuck.
However, in each failure, they learned new and valuable lessons.
“After all the failures, we realized what we were missing and what we needed to do next,” McKeown says. “Failure really does help you grow.”
He says that he learned two main things during this time. First, that relying on someone else’s product or infrastructure to build your business can spell disaster.
“If you’re building something on…an affiliate network, one wrong move can cut out your entire income,” he says.
And second, any successful business brings some sort of unique value to the community. McKeown realized that, while their coupon site was a great idea, it had no unique twist to differentiate it from competitors.
But success was on the horizon. As they were working on a website to rank web hosts through crowdsourced data (which, again, failed for lack of monetization), they put together another website in a single weekend. It was a platform to allow businesses to run contests as marketing tools.
The website was called Gleam.
Keeping in mind their target market of bloggers and creators, they decided to spend three months improving the beta version of the site and cold emailing brands that could benefit from its use.
McKeown says he would browse Twitter to find a blogger or creator who was running a competition, then recreate that competition using Gleam and send it to the creator showing them how much better that contest would look on his platform.
Cheeky but effective, McKeown says that this approach had about an 80 percent success rate, drawing in all kinds of new users.
They officially launched in October 2013, and by the following October, both he and Sherwood quit their jobs and began working for Gleam full time, finally achieving their goal of replacing their corporate incomes with the income from a business of their own.
Today, Gleam is an entirely remote operation with 16 employees working around the globe, and has become much more than just a way for brands to market contests. It now includes apps for creating email opt-in forms, competition-related galleries, and rewards programs.
McKeown hopes that Gleam can become a one-stop shop for growing businesses by offering an all-encompassing suite that serves all of their needs. They are also working to develop specified guides for users that will teach them best practices and how to use each application to its fullest.
However, even with many more apps on the to-do list, he’s still acutely aware of the danger of spreading himself too thin in pursuit of the perfect platform.
“It’s a lot easier to build one product really well than it is to build three or four products really well,” he says.
To help them narrow their focus, they keep a running log of apps and features customers regularly request. If they decide it will add substantial value for the customer and is a viable means of increasing revenue, they then deem it worthy of their limited time and resources.
Despite those limited resources, McKeown and Sherwood have always placed great emphasis on the wellbeing of their employees. Low-key and casual, McKeown says that there isn’t a huge emphasis on adherence to a company culture or working around the clock. He prefers that his employees work well and then set work aside to live their lives.
“In my mind, if you’re still at your desk at 5 o’clock, you’re not working efficiently. You’re not working optimally,” he says. “How can we get more done faster? And then you go and enjoy yourself. Don’t be worried about working weekends. Don’t be worried about working in the evenings…unless something’s broken.”
This is a philosophy he employs in his own life, as well. While admittedly working the occasional Saturday, he is almost always home for breakfast, dinner, and the all-important bedtime tuck in.
“Finding that family balance and work balance is really important,” he says. “It can be very easy to become a workaholic and distance yourself, especially if you’re working a job and trying to build something on the side.”
McKeown may not have become an engineer, or even a world famous DJ, but by staying true to himself and striking out fearlessly despite unforeseen obstacles, he has built a brand to be proud of—a gleaming beacon of success.
Stuart McKeown’s 4 Tips For Running a Hit Competition
Using Gleam, many brands have run marketing campaigns based on competitions, some with resounding success and others, well, not so much. McKeown believes that the right competitions can launch an email list into the stratosphere and build budding client bases, while the wrong ones can barely make a dent. Competitions are just another, albeit glitzy and exciting, marketing strategy, McKeown says. If the wrong tactics are employed, it doesn’t matter what platform is used. To ensure that your next competition is a success, McKeown offers these four tips:
1. Consider How You Can Bring Value
We can’t all offer customers a chance at a VIP backstage pass to a Justin Bieber concert, but we can offer something that will draw eyes. McKeown says that brainstorming on the question “What can I do that offers the most value based on my business,” is that first and most vital step in running a successful campaign. If your prize doesn’t strike customers as unattainable in some way, it will be far more difficult to convince them to offer up their email addresses or Twitter follows.
2. Choose Your Prize Wisely
While a chance to win a shiny new iPhone X will attract a lot of attention, McKeown notes that building up a list of people who love new tech will do little to increase business at a local bike shop. Choosing a prize isn’t just about creating the best value proposition. To run a competition that will bring lasting benefits, it’s essential to select something that will bring potential customers out of the woodwork. A chance to win a new road bike would be a far better choice in this case.
3. Build Partnerships
Particularly if you’re a new business, McKeown recommends reaching out to brands that complement yours and offering to create a partnership. “If you have no existing audience,” he says, “my number one tip is to leverage someone else’s.” For example, the bike shop could reach out to a sports outfitter or a health food supplier, offering to promote them in exchange for their help in advertising your campaign. Just like that, you’re in front of potential customers who are likely to participate in your contest.
4. Don’t Forget the Losers
Last but not least, McKeown reminds contest creators not to overlook those who didn’t win the big prize. They are still valuable potential customers, and building up a positive rapport with them even though they didn’t win the new bicycle is vital. Send out an email containing a 20 percent off coupon for their next tire change or seat upgrade. Making winners out of the losers ultimately makes you a winner, as well!
ATTENTION: We are also excited to announce that Stuart has partnered with Foundr to teach an epic course, List-Building Mastery. If you want a step-by-step strategy on how to explode your email list from scratch, get your first 10,000+ subscribers, and scale to 60,000 and more, Stuart reveals all of his proven strategies in this in-depth, tactical course. We only open enrollment a couple of times a year for a limited time. Get on the FREE VIP waitlist here to be one of the first we notify when we open.
- Four tips for running a viral competition
- Why building a product that relies on someone else’s infrastructure can spell disaster
- McKeown’s low-key and casual philosophy on work/life balance
- How and why failure is necessary for success
Full Transcript of Podcast with Stuart McKeown
Nathan: So the first question that I ask everyone that comes on is how’d you get your job?
Stuart: Which one?
Nathan: The one you’re working on right now. The job you’re working on right now.
Stuart: Do you want the long version or the short version?
Nathan: Give us the in-between version of where did it all start? Like, Gleam’s a beast right now but, you know, you’ve done like…I think you’ve told me you’ve done, like, five different startups. Take me back. Take me back, man.
Stuart: Yeah, so I’m obviously not from Australia. Moved out here 2005. I originally thought I was going to be a DJ. You know, I dropped…
Nathan: Wow. That’s so cool.
Stuart: Yeah. I dropped out of Uni because my parents kind of…I think it’s, you know, as you’re growing up, a lot of kids don’t know what they want to do and I was one of those kids. I was, kind of, told what I thought I wanted to do and I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I went to Uni and I realized, you know, they’re teaching me all this stuff from, like, the 1980s.
You know, I’m not…I was doing engineering, so I’m like, “I don’t like this. This is not for me.” I’m like, you know, “This doesn’t feel right.” So I kind of stuck with it for a year and then I was like, “Right, I need to do something else.” So I dropped out and I had a pretty cushy part-time job back home. I was like, “Right.”
You know, “Screw this. I’m going to go to a different country. I’m going to try to start fresh. I’m going to, you know, see what happens.” So I came to Australia because they were, kind of, making the type of music that I like and…
Nathan: What sort?
Stuart: So I listen to, like, progressive house. You know, breakbeat music at that time. I did a bit of DJing. I met a lot of really cool people that kind of, you know, helped me get set up and introduced me and, you know, made lots of cool friends.
Nathan: What was your DJ name?
Stuart: Just my own name.
Nathan: Oh, okay.
Stuart: So I didn’t have any special…but I quickly realized that, like, DJing and that sort of thing is not a very sustainable business unless you’re, like, big time. So I just started looking for jobs and so I got, like, an engineering job and then I got a job with, like, a retail marketing company that did…you know, like, fit-outs for, like, launches for products? So we launched, like, the portable PSP, some Canon cameras, you know, a few other things like that.
And that kind of got me, you know, into, like, the marketing side of things. Then I became really interested in online, so I started building a couple of my own websites selling like, you know, back in the back in the day, like, Clickbank products. You know, all those sort of stuff that I wouldn’t dare talk about now but, yeah, I got a real feel for it.
So I built a couple of my own websites and then I got a job for a startup in Australia here called Hitwise. I was, like, an SEO analyst. Like complete bottom of the pile job but I just worked my ass off, kind of climbed the corporate ladder for about three or four years…
Nathan: At Hitwise?
Stuart: At Hitwise and then I quit the company and went to work for, like, an e-commerce business helping to grow their business.
Nathan: What was that?
Stuart: They’re in the…it wasn’t a traditional sort of business. They were in the adult space. So it was an interesting career change for me.
Stuart: But at the time I was open to trying absolutely anything, you know? And that was really interesting, the way they do things differently. They’re a lot more forward-thinking but…so I’d been there for, like, nine months. I was really enjoying my job. It was a lot more…you know, because Hitwise was a little bit more corporate focused. You know, there was a lot more bureaucracy.
You didn’t really have as much control to do what you wanted, whereas this small business, it really sort of, you know…it was what I was after. It was, like, you could make decisions that day and action something that day. You didn’t have to get approval. You know, it was a lot more fun from that perspective but then my Hitwise boss gave me a call one day and he said, “Hey, Stu, you know, I’ve been promoted. Do you want my old job?”
And he was director of product and I was like, “Well, look, you know, I’m pretty happy where I am.” And, you know, got my negotiating shoes on and I got hired back. So I pretty much doubled my salary in the space of like, you know, two years. So I went back to Hitwise and I was there for another four years after that.
So they got acquired by a big UK company called Experian, you know, so I got to go through the whole kind of, you know, scrappy startup getting acquired by a big corporate and how everything changes after that. But, you know, I was always working on my own stuff on the side, mostly affiliate. I started getting into, like, coupons around maybe 2008, 2009. I was building, like, WordPress sites in, like, niche areas for coupon codes.
You know, so I built, like, one for Australia that had Australian coupon codes. I built one for the U.S. which, kind of, was doing, like, web hosting coupon codes. Just kind of anything to, you know, like make some money on the side. You know, kind of grow my knowledge, see what was working, and I got to the point where I was like, “I need to find a developer. You know, if I could find a developer, I can automate a lot of the stuff that I’m doing. I can do it on a bigger scale.You know, I can turn it into a much bigger business.”
And, you know, you’ve got to make that conscious decision, especially when you’ve got a full-time job and I think I’d just had my first kid or was just about to have my first kid at this point in time. It’s like, how do you distribute your time? You know? Because you wake up in the morning…I lived in Parkdale at the time so it’s maybe, like, 45 minutes, an hour to get into the city and then 45 minutes, an hour to get home.
You know, so the amount of time that you can dedicate on a project that isn’t your work and your family, it’s limited. So you’ve got a bit of time in the morning, a bit of time in the evening, so you’ve got to make a conscious decision about what you want to build, build something around how much time you can dedicate. So we built a coupon website, it was called Storecrowd and it aggregated coupons from all of the affiliate networks, from newsletters, and we launched it I think in November 2009.
Took us about three months to build and I’m not sure if you want me to go into how I met John, my co-founder.
Nathan: Please. This is good stuff, man. This is fascinating for me because, like, I’ve known you for a while but I didn’t know this story.
Stuart: Okay. Right, right. So I came to the realization when I was, kind of, working for the man and I wanted to build something bigger. I didn’t want to fully commit. You know, I wanted to do something in my own time and if it took off, then, you know, reevaluate whether I wanted to, you know, pursue it full-time or not.
So I decided I needed to meet somebody and this was, like…at the time, looking back it seems like it was the hardest part but I just started emailing all the developers in Melbourne. All the Ruby on Rails developers. For some reason, Ruby on Rails was the platform I wanted to use. I’m not sure why I made that decision. I think it’s because it’s…
Nathan: Because Basecamp and those guys are so cool.
Stuart: Maybe. I think because I read that you could build stuff fast. It wasn’t necessarily optimized. You could build stuff quickly, so I started emailing all the Ruby on Rails developers saying, “Hey, I’ve got this idea,” and, you know, got a mixture of responses. People saying, “No, sorry, this doesn’t seem like something I would be interested in.” Some people saying, “Yeah, I could do that but this is how much it’s going to cost.”
You know, full range of responses. I started going to the Ruby on Rails meetups and here’s me, you know, I’m not even a developer just, like, sitting there, you know, trying to, like, get people to moonlight afterwards. And then my strategy was using meetup.com. So I would look at who attended meetups and then I would try to find their email address and I would email them, and I’ve still got the emails that I sent out.
I don’t know if you want to have a look at what I actually said. So I sent one to John, my co-founder, and he was, like, the first response that was so different from everybody else. Everyone else was quite like, “No, pay me.” And he was like, “Yeah, sounds cool. I’ve got nothing better to do.” And I was like, “All right.” and we called up…
Nathan: So you sent an email to all these people that went to the meetup and said, like, “Hey, do you want to build something together?” Even though you might not have met them in person?
Stuart: Correct, yeah.
Nathan: Wow, and John was the first one to say, “Yeah, that sounds good?”
Stuart: Yeah. I maybe emailed, like, 30, 40 people.
Nathan: Wow. So spray and pray approach to finding a co-founder. A dev. Like a CTO co-founder.
Stuart: You’ve got to liken it to dating, you know, you’ve got to be in it to win it.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. That’s crazy. Yeah. Great.
Stuart: If you don’t ask, then…and there’s a lot more dynamics to it. You know, it just so happens that John and I complement each other very well. I’ve seen a lot of co-founder relationships go crazy so that was me just finding the first person that would say yes and it just so happened that our personalities complement each other, but it could have been very different. It could have been…he could have said yes and we could have hated each other.
So, I mean, that’s a consideration. So we started building. We would do one weekend every month at either my house or his house and then we’d work in the morning and in the evenings. Took us three months to build a prototype of this coupon website, we launched it, and within three months, we were making about $30 grand a month.
Nathan: That’s good.
Stuart: Yeah, it was very good. We were super stoked and, you know, at this point in time we’re like, “All right, do we start quitting our jobs?What do you want to do?” So John quit his job and he started working on it full-time, and you’ve got to remember, he was a Java developer. I think he was a contracted Java developer so he was getting paid, like, six figures plus. So I think you’ve also, when you’re starting something, you got to think about at what point in your life are you at?
You know, we were late 20s at this point, John had kids as well. So when you’re late 20s, you’ve got a mortgage, you’ve got kids, and you’ve got a certain amount of outgoings that you need to look after. The risk is higher and also the barrier to quitting your job is higher because you need to replace your salary, whereas when you’re young 20s, you’ve just finished Uni, you have no commitments.
You know, all you’ve got to worry about is to cover your rent. Then the risk is lower. The only risk is that you, you know, miss out on, you know, corporate life or climbing the corporate ladder. You know, maybe making a bit more money. So, you know, we made a conscious decision together that number one, and I think this is important and, you know, this is a decision I made even though I had come up with the idea and the blueprints of what I wanted to build, we went 50-50.
Not 70-30. Not 80-20. You know, I wanted to be equal skin in the game because it’s the fairest approach. You know, we feel like we both own it equally and we’re both willing to work towards the goal of whatever we want to build. I’ve seen some people say, “Oh, I came up with the idea so I want 70%” and give them 30%. You know, in my view, you know, 70% of nothing is nothing.
And I think that was a really, really good decision. I also made the decision to be completely transparent with everything in the business with one another. So everybody has access to the finances, you know, we talk honestly about, you know, our feelings about each other and feelings about the business and, you know, we’re very…
Nathan: Even with the employees?
Stuart: Yeah, I mean we’ve got a dashboard in the backend that shows revenue customers that the employees can see.
Nathan: Oh, yeah, that’s important. Yeah, yeah.
Stuart: That honesty and transparentness, not necessarily with employees but with each other, has been important. I’ve seen a lot of founder relationships diminish because of, you know, one founder’s looking after the finances and not telling the other one what’s going on. One founder’s looking after the tech side and kind of keeping things, you know…I think that was important for us.
So we went 50-50 and our only goal was to replace our salary. So we didn’t have a goal of becoming, like, a unicorn or some big business. We were like, “We want to replace our salary so we can work for ourselves.” So from 2009, it took us until October 2013 to do that.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. And what happened with the coupon site, man? Because, yeah, that was making $30k a month. You guys could have, like, both left.
Stuart: Yeah, so 2009…was it 2008? It was either November 2008 or 2009, in January or February, Google released their Panda update and that killed us. Like, killed us completely.
We went from $30k a month to, like, $2k a month pretty much overnight and that was rough. So we were kind of using, like, Adwords SEM to, like, supplement the traffic and supplement the income. Then, you know, affiliate networks started cracking down on coupon affiliates quite heavily. Saying, “Oh, you know, they’re not driving value. They’re leeching.”
Which is true. You know, I don’t disagree with that. You know, I think we spent, like, eight or nine months trying to recover from Panda, which I think was a mistake. You know, we thought we can build better content but, you know, looking back, I think Panda was looking at, like, branding signals. Like how many people are searching for your brand? Do people know about you? Is this site just purely optimizing for search engines?
I think there was a lot more to it than just, you know, bulking out your content. I can’t say for sure. So then we decided to…we’re like, “Right, we’ll let this, kind of, you know just die in the background.” You know, we had a couple of Upwork employees that were keeping the coupons fresh and let’s just try building other things.
So we built a Pinterest clone before Pinterest was around, which was a terrible idea.
Nathan: What? It was before Pinterest was around. It could have been a great idea.
Stuart: Yeah, it was called Thing, where you could, like, save collections of your favorite things and that kind of got some use. But we ended up realizing that this is a terrible idea because it’s not monetizable. So we’re like, “Right.Well, we need to build something that’s monetizable.” So then we built, like, a version of our coupon site for retailers directly.
So the idea was instead of letting coupon sites aggregate all your coupons, we could help you build a landing page that you put on your own site and, you know, let search engines rank. You know? So if somebody searches for Foundr coupons, then your page ranks and you’ve got all your coupons listed.
People can copy them, you can track it, and that kind of never got off the ground. I think it was too early. I think that sort of product would do quite well now. Then we got into web hosting. We kind of realized, you know, after all the failures, we kind of realized what we were missing and what we needed to do next. You know, I think that’s an important part. Failure really does help you grow.
You know, to any of your listeners, do not be afraid to fail. I think the important part is to fail fast and learn and move forward. Don’t fail and then drive something into the ground for two years because those are two years wasted.
You know, the main things that we learned from those three or four sites was number one, you know, do not rely on someone else’s product or traffic or infrastructure to build your business. You need to be diverse. You know, so if you’re building something on Facebook, on a specific affiliate network, you know, one wrong move can cut out your entire income.
So that was a big learning for us. The second one was that your product needs to have some sort of unique value. You know, our coupon site was great but it wasn’t any better than RetailMeNot. It wasn’t any better than some of the competitors. It didn’t have a unique twist. The same with the Pinterest site. It was good but there was no…it wasn’t any better or above than anyone else.
So we kind of took that learning to this server burst site and what we wanted to fix was the web hosting review space. Now if you search for, like, web hosting reviews or anything like that, you’ll see that everyone’s, you know, promoting, like GoDaddy and all these crappy…Bluehost. All these, you know, crappy web hosting sites that offer…and the only reason they’re promoting it is because every time someone signs up, you get 150 bucks.
They’re not actually promoting what’s best for the user. So we built, like, this script that you could run on your server and it would benchmark, like, your CPU, your disk speed, your network speed, and spit you out a report. And then you could compare the speed of your server to what else is on the market, like in a crowdsourced way and that site did really well.
Got really popular and then the problem that we had with it was all the web hosts that were, like, ranked number one and number two and had the best performance didn’t have an affiliate program or their affiliate program wasn’t paying us. So the revenue model of the site, which was based around affiliates, wasn’t actually viable. We actually built Gleam while we were building that site.
So we were running competitions…like, we were partnering up with web hosts. Like, so we partnered up with MaxCDN, for example, and they were going to give away, like, 10 unlimited CDN packages and we would promote them, they would promote us.
And we used a couple of, like, competition products and we were like, “We could build something better.Why don’t we just build something internally for now?” So I remember, like, when we decided this, we were doing like a weekend at my house. We were like, “Let’s just build something. We’ll spend three months on it.We’ll put it into beta. We’ll see how it goes.” So we built, like, the first iteration of Gleam in, like, a weekend and we used…I think back then it had an integration with Facebook, Twitter, and Soundcloud for some reason.
I’m not sure why we had Soundcloud in the beginning and we launched it with one of our own campaigns. So we did the MaxCDN and we got amazing results compared to the tools that we had paid for. And we got all these people emailing us saying, “Hey, what is this tool that you’re using?You know, can I use it?”
So John and I were like, “Well, like, we may be onto something here. Like, do you want to pursue it?” And he’s like, “Yeah.” You know, I think this was July 2013. We spent three months. We’re like, “Okay, let’s build this for three months and see where it goes.” So we built it, we decided all right, our target market is bloggers and creators.
So I would spend maybe two hours a day just cold emailing people to try and get them to use the beta of the first iteration of Gleam, and I’ve still got those emails I think. I think there’s some of those emails in the course that we’re launching. Basically, what I would do is I would go on Twitter and I would look at somebody running competitions and I would take their competition and I would rebuild it on Gleam, and then I would email them a screenshot and a link to the live campaign.
And I would say, “You know, wouldn’t it be awesome if your competitions could work like this?”
Nathan: That’s smart.
Stuart: I had a massive success rate with that. Like upwards of 80%of emails that I got a response from, they would come and sign-up. So that’s how we got our first 100 users. That…
Nathan: Doing things that don’t scale.
Stuart: Yeah, that one tactic alone, I would spend my evenings shortlisting who I was going to target and I would do 10 every day. Every day for three months and along that way, you know, so people started using the product and we sort of had, like, the “Powered by Gleam” in the footer. So that drove more people and then, you know, the product was…it had a nice twist but there was a lot of stuff that was bad and broken and wrong with it.
Like it didn’t work on mobile. A whole bunch of other things. So we, you know, along these three months we were getting all this feedback about what wasn’t good, what needed improved and we pissed a few people off by, you know, stuff that was broken. But we quickly fixed it, iterated, you know, moved forward as the product got better and better and better and stronger.
And then we launched in October 2013. I remember getting our first customer in Stripe. So it was one of the cold email customers and they’re called Marleylilly. They’re, like, a monogramming. You know, you can put, like, stitching on your clothes and apparel. They paid yearly, which was like 1,500 bucks.
Nathan: Oh, wow. That’s awesome.
Stuart: And we kept moving from there. So we were like, “Right, all right, what do we need to go full-time on this?” So we were still working at this point. We hadn’t gone full-time. So we said, “All right, when we hit $10,000 MRR, John will go full-time. When we hit $20,000 MRR, monthly recurring revenue, I will go full-time.
So it took us from October 2013 to…sorry, yeah, it took us from launch in October to the following October to hit $20,000 monthly recurring revenue. So it took us almost a year.
Nathan: Yeah, I see. Wow and I’m curious because you said that John left his job, like, ages back. Back in the coupon days. So he was still just coding and hacking away or did he have to go back and get a job to supplement income?
Stuart: Yeah, so he went full-time and then he went back to consulting and then came back full-time again. So I think he got, like, a good offer for a contract back at Sensis for, like, six to eight months. So he went back and that’s amazing money, you know, and that kind of allowed him to set money aside, as well, to take a bit more risk.
So you could say he took a lot more risk from that perspective than I did and, you know, it’s kind of paid off now but, you know, that was a good situation for us to be in. To have that flexibility, I think. But yeah, so then I started full-time and then, you know, fast forward to now, you know, we’ve got 16 remote employees. So we’re a completely remote business.
No offices. I think, you know, that growth is interesting. Like as the business gets bigger, your multiple of growth slows. You know? In your first year, you might grow by, like, 1000%, then 500%, then 250%, and then 100% and then 50% depending on the scale of your business and the challenges change, as well.
Like, it’s a lot easier to get shit done in the early days. As the business grows, you’ve got to start thinking about, you know, workflows, you know, how do we get certain features done, you’ve got technical depth to worry about. You know, as the business evolves, you know, the way you work evolves, as well, and you’ve just kind of got to be open to that.
But yeah, definitely, you know, interesting journey for us. You know, I still think we’re getting started. The key thing is that you enjoy coming to work every day. As weird as this might sound, you know, I used to hate Monday mornings. I think if you look back at my corporate days, you know, Monday was my most taken day off, sick.
Sick in sort of Dr. Evil quotes. Whereas Monday is my favorite day now. I love it.
Nathan: Yeah. That’s awesome, man. So you guys have, like, quite a few users. Like in the millions, right? I remember when we spoke a while back.
Stuart: Yeah, so we’re over a million users. In terms of customers in the…well, we do have an interesting product in that, you know, from the beginning we wanted to make our billing flexible. So we didn’t want to lock people in. We wanted to make it…you know?
Because competitions, sweepstakes, that sort of thing, it’s not something that everyone does every day. You know, it can be a very seasonal activity. So you can decide to run one this month and you may not need to run one until next season or next product launch or whatever. You know? So you have different groups of people that, you know, it’s a core part of their strategy.
It’s always on. They’re always doing it. You’ve got some people that might run three or four per year. You’ve got some people that might run one per year and then you’ve got the people that, you know, maybe your core audience, which are like, “You know, I know I need to be doing this and I know I need to build my list.You know, grow my business. I want to give it a shot.” And that will determine whether they, you know, add it to their marketing stack or not and in a lot of cases, the campaign can fail and they’re like, “Okay, this doesn’t work for us.”
And that can be down to a number of reasons, like execution, the way they promoted the campaign, x, y, z. So today, we’ve had over 25,000 paying customers but not all those paying customers, you know, still exist. Some of them use the product ongoing, some of them use it sporadically, some of them have used it and not used it again.
You know, that sort of ebb and flow of churn can be difficult to measure. You know, the way we measure it is, you know, we track obviously our monthly recurring revenue, we track number of new sign-ups, so new paying customers, we track the number of people that return, so the number of people that have had a subscription before, then canceled, then come back, and then we track the number of people that churn, so the number of people that cancel their subscription.
We’re kind of looking at, like, the ebb and flow of, you know, how do we retain more people through education and how do we get more customers through, you know, content? You know, podcasts like this. You know, content marketing is massive for us. We pretty much invest 100% of our resources into that and what can we do from a product perspective to make people’s campaigns more successful?
You know, because obviously the more people that see the widget, the more people think, “Hey, well, you know, what is that? I want to try it out. You know, see how it works for my business.” So those are the kind of core moving parts.
Nathan: Yeah. Awesome and, you know, when it comes to someone wanting to do a competition and, you know, what are some best practices? Because, man, you know we’re doing a course together and I’m really pumped. Zach said you absolutely crushed it.
I can’t wait to go through it and start using some of your tactics on list building but when it comes to competitions, what are best practices that you could share? If someone wants to get started to build their list, you know, one go-to is doing a competition. You can use Gleam. Like what’s a go-to? What do you recommend when you’re doing a competition or giveaway?
Stuart: Yeah, so, you know, I don’t like to talk Gleam up too much in this sort of scenario because, you know, for me, competitions is, you know, it’s like anything. It’s like a marketing strategy, right? You know, Gleam is just the facilitation of your strategy and if you have the wrong strategy, it doesn’t matter whether you use Gleam, it doesn’t matter whether you use another tool, it can either succeed or it can fail.
And, you know, a lot of people put all the pressure on Gleam to be 100% of what makes their campaign successful and in some industries, that works. In some, it doesn’t. You know, like your sort of industry where it’s info products. You know, the thing that I brought it back to is, first of all, determining what your value proposition is.
You know? So if you think about a competition, it’s an incentive. You know? So you’re incentivizing somebody to give them your email address or to perform some sort of action. Follow you on Twitter, you know, check out your Instagram, whatever it might be. And you’ve got to think about what value can I give that person in order to give me their details?
Consent to marketing? And, you know, if I’m Justin Bieber, for example, and I say, “Hey, win backstage with Justin Bieber,” the value there is insane because, you know, all his fans…that’s something that you can’t attain. You know, you can’t buy that.
That’s something unattainable, therefore the value is inconceivable and he could probably throw that campaign out there and it would go crazy. Right? And, you know, that’s an extreme example but it’s just to give you some sort of context. Whereas, you know, if you’re a shop that sells, you know, bikes, for example, you might give away a bike and the difference in the value is different.
You know, one has mass appeal and one has niche appeal. So you’ve got to think about, you know, what can I do that offers the most value based on my business? And, you know, I’ve seen really simple things work. For example, you know, if you’re a nightclub and you’re giving away tickets to an event, some of them throw in, like, a meet and greet with the artist and that really bumps up their numbers all of a sudden because, again, it’s an unattainable thing.
So that’s number one, thinking about your value and what you can give. And that value can come through a product, a service, you know, a meet and greet. The second way that value can happen is bundling products. So creating, like, a package where you bundle multiple different types of products together and so we do that with some of our campaigns.
We build, like, specific bundles trying to target specific audiences. Like we did, like, an entrepreneur bundle and we’re doing, like, an ergonomics bundle at the moment, trying to target people that work from home.
Nathan: That’s smart.
Stuart: So that works well. The next thing is partnerships. So, you know, if you have a bike store, thinking about what are some complimentary products and services that I could reach out to and start working with multiple other brands in order to promote my giveaway? And this is a tactic I think all…like if you’re starting out and you’ve got a new store or a new business, this is personally where I think you should start because you’ve got a strong product but you don’t have an audience.
You know, a lot of people with strong products and no audience, they’re like, “Oh, I’m going to throw 1000 bucks at Facebook ads.” And then they throw 1000 bucks at Facebook ads and they get 200 emails, 300 emails, whatever it might be and they’re disappointed. If you have no existing audience, you know, my number one tip is leverage someone else’s audience and, you know, you have your product.
You know your product costs you X to give away and it could be expensive, it could be cheap. You know, in the course…I won’t talk about this specific example but I’ll tease it. In the course, we talk about this fidget spinner example where they got close to 500,000 entries inside of 24 hours and they did something really, really simple to do it through partnerships.
But, you know, once you’ve got your value, start reaching out to complementary businesses. Like if you’ve got bikes, you might reach out to someone that offers bike stands, tires, you know, lights, gears, you know, all sorts of bike accessories and say, “Hey guys, I want to do this collaborative contest. Basically, you know, we can all put in prizes and we can all share the email list or we can share the social actions.”
And then you create, you know, like a list of how you want them to promote. Like, you know, you should promote it on Facebook once a week, you should announce it to Twitter, announce it to your email list, you know, ask people, “How big is your email list? How much can you contribute to this campaign?” And suddenly, you know, you’ve got your product in front of all these, you know, email lists of all these other businesses that complement your product.
Also, you know, these email lists are targeted to the types of users that buy bikes. You know, it’s a no-brainer and that’s a fantastic way to kickstart your email list. All of a sudden, you’ve got a targeted list of people, you know, that are interested in your products, rather than…you know, I see some people make mistakes where they give away, like, an iPhone X, for example.
Nathan: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s a no-no, right?
Stuart: You know, they…yeah. They run a bike shop, they give away an iPhone X, and all of a sudden they’ve got, you know, 100,000 emails but they’re from people who don’t want to buy bikes. You know? So you’ve got to think about the tradeoff between quality versus quantity, you know, and you’ve got to find the sweet spot somewhere between, I think. You want to get enough emails that it makes an impact, but you don’t want to get enough that no one’s interested and then obviously once you’ve figured that out, you know, then you can jump into Gleam, create your campaign, get it done.
You know, and there’s a lot of product-specific tactics that you can use and we cover a lot of that in our guides on our site, and there’s a lot of tactics you can use like following up. You know, sending a coupon code to everybody that didn’t win, for example. You know, that works really well for, like, product-specific giveaways.
Like if you’re giving away…say, for example, you’re launching a Kickstarter and you’re giving away your Kickstarter product as, you know, the prize. You know, you could send a commiserations email to everybody that didn’t win saying, “Hey, get 20% off it or, you know, back our project. You know, we’ve got a specific backing tier for contest entries that give you, you know, something cheaper.”
You know, there’s lots of sort of cool tactics that you can use to leverage the data that you collect, as well. So those are my, like, core…they’d be, like, the core things I think people should focus on.
Nathan: Yeah, no, that’s awesome, man, and like Gleam’s much more than just a tool that helps you build competitions and giveaways. Like you guys are a growth tool. Like what are elements you guys offer?
Stuart: Yeah, so I mean, we started with competitions. Then we started trying to build out other products that just can help people grow their business. So we’ve got a rewards tool which is, like, you know…so a competition is you go into, like, a pool to win a prize and you get chosen randomly out of that pool of entrants.
We wanted to create something that allowed people to get rewarded instantly. You know, so like, subscribe to the beta of some new game launch or, you know, get a copy of our new album or a track off our new album. Where you could complete a bunch of actions and get access to it instantly, rather than having to wait for the contest to be over. So we’ve got that.
We’ve got a rewards app. We’ve got an app that allows you to collect emails, so like an email list builder pop-ups. You know, our twist on that is that we wanted to build, like, a pop-up platform that integrates with almost every email provider. So I think we’ve got about 30 plus email providers and then we wanted to give people…we wanted to create nice templates for people to use but we also wanted to make it really flexible around how you can figure what pop-up shows to what person and when it shows.
So we’ve got quite an advanced rule builder where you can create rules to say, you know, if this person’s a customer and they visit this page and they scroll this percent and then they try to leave, then show them this opt-in form. Or, you know, if this person has come from Pinterest and they’ve looked at this product, show them this opt-in form. And obviously people still use it in this sort of way but we wanted to try to make pop-ups more targeted, less annoying for people.
Like, you know, you just visit the site and it pops up straightaway type thing. We wanted it to be a lot more engagement based. We wanted pop-ups to be more relevant. We’ve got, like, embeddable pop-ups so you can embed them in your page. So we talk a lot more about that product in the course, as well. So we’ve got that and then we’ve also got, like, a social gallery app. I think we talked about this maybe like six months ago.
It allows you to import media from your campaigns but also, like, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and show it off in, like, an embeddable gallery on your site. So we’ve just launched, like, a carousel version of that so you can have, like, a nice carousel on your homepage which sort of shows recent products. And then we’re probably going to extend it into, like, shoppable feeds at some point.
Nathan: That’s smart.
Stuart: Yeah, so you like ingest your product feed and you can tag products but, you know, the problem with that particular app in the current ecosphere is that obviously with new privacy restrictions, all the APIs are getting shut down. It’s becoming more and more difficult to get access to public content. You know, so one of the advantages that we have is that we can…you know, people can still provide authorization through the competition and you can import that into your gallery feed, but we want to move away.
We want to eventually allow people to upload directly and use social sources, as well. So, you know, eventually, you know, you can have, like, a hosted gallery on your site where people can upload directly from the page. It can import from all your various sources. We want to enhance it to do, like, testimonials, case studies, all that sort of stuff.
So, you know, basically, we’re trying to build, like, a suite of tools to help businesses grow. We want to try and have it all into one place, you know, so that you don’t have to buy three, four, five, six, seven tools to do all this stuff. Because it’s a work in progress. We’ve got a bunch of other apps that we want to launch but we’re kind of torn between making each product the best it can be versus spreading ourselves too thin and making all of these apps that are, like, subpar and not good enough.
Nathan: That’s a tricky thing, right? Focus.
Stuart: That’s it. You know, it’s a lot easier to build one product really well than it is to build three or four products really well. But you’ve also got to listen…like, you’ve got to listen to your customers. You know, like our rewards app, a lot of our customers want to be able to create, like, a referral program. Kind of like an affiliate program for customers where, you know, you get a link and you share it and you get points.
And those points can be used to redeem stuff. That’s our most requested feature or app. That’s something we want to build but it’s, you know, how do you do it properly is the question. You know, do we make it part of our existing rewards product? Do we create a separate referrals product? You know, so definitely one of the big things for us is listening to customers but don’t listen to them too much.
Nathan: How do you know what to take on and what not to, then?
Stuart: Yeah, so good question. You know, so I’ve got a couple of friends building products and they’re just building everything that people ask for.
Stuart: And that’s silly, I think.
Nathan: I agree.
Stuart: You know, when you’re building a product…and you may get this, Nathan, as well. Like when you’re building a product, you will get people who are like, “Oh, yeah, I’m not going to use your product unless it’s got feature X,”or “You need feature Y because X has got feature Y.” And, you know, you’ve got to, you know, take everything on board and you’ve got to build what makes sense. So what we do is we keep a running log of what people ask for and we rank it in terms of, you know, ease of implementation, whether other customers will get value out of it, you know, will it generate additional revenue for the business?
And then we build based on what we think makes sense. You know, in the early days of when you’re building a business, you can charge people for certain features and then roll them out to all your customers at a later date. You know, that’s a good strategy.
Nathan: And then that’s how you know what the real features are you build because if there’s enough demand, people will be prepared to pay for something that doesn’t exist.
Stuart: Correct and, you know, you know that better than anybody with your courses. You know, I think you surveyed people and wanted to know what courses you wanted to build, and then got them to commit and then built the courses. You know, it’s a fantastic strategy because, you know, you’re not investing all this time building something and then realizing I’ve built something that people don’t want.
You know, what do I do?
Nathan: Yeah, 100%. I think that’s a great form of validation and just, yeah, it’s killer, man. Yeah, I reckon that’s where it’s at.
Stuart: Yeah, there’s also the feature fallacy, which is thinking that the next big feature is going to break your business or, you know…
Nathan: Blow it up.
Stuart: …cause you to… Blow it up.
Nathan: In a good way.
Stuart: Yeah, that’s a very common one that I think people…it’s a trap that people fall into. It can happen but it’s very rare. You know, we’ve built a lot of features that have flopped and we’ve built a lot of features that we thought would be terrible and they’ve actually, you know, gone gangbuster. So, you know, there’s a balance between, you know, what do I invest my time in from a product perspective or do I focus on my core product to make it better?
Or do I, you know, try and add these new things? But I think as a founder, you’ve just got to have a bit of…you’ve got a hunch for what you think works. You know, I think when I caught up with Zach to do the course, I think he told me that when you surveyed, you know, your customers or people that read your magazine, a lot of them asked for stuff that you had never even though they were going to ask for.
It kind of blew your mind.
Nathan: Yeah, like I didn’t know…like this course we were working on. Dude, I had no idea that, like, people really wanted to know how to do list building and how to build their email list faster. Like I thought there’d be other things that were much more in demand. Like, you know, for some reason a lot of people ask us, you know, around hiring.
Hiring strategies because a lot of our audience, like I said, are flying. Like a lot of people that follow the Foundr brand, they’ve either just launched something or they’ve just found product-market fit and they’re trying to grow. And, you know, a lot of people ask around hiring but turned out, you know, people wanted to know how to build their list more.
Stuart: I can talk around hiring a little bit.
Stuart: I can tell you how we do it.
Nathan: Yeah, I’d love to hear but then we’ve got to work towards wrapping up, man, because yeah, your wife’s waiting for you, man.
Stuart: Yeah, it’s all good. It’s all good. So we’re a completely remote business and we hire… finding developers in Melbourne’s tough. So what we do is we look…we want to find the best people but it doesn’t matter where they are. We don’t have an office.
We don’t even really have a culture.
Nathan: That’s kind of bad, man.
Stuart: No, no, no. You know, I digress. You know, it depends on the person. Right? You’ve got people that want to get into an office, they want to experience it, they want to, you know, have the whole startup life. They want to have all this culture and then you have people that just want to come to work, do the best work that they can, and enjoy their own life. And when I say culture, I mean those, like, you have to do things in a certain way and say things in a certain way and all that sort of stuff.
When we were hiring people, we wanted to…you know, John and I are not the most PC type of people. You know, we don’t try and paint a pretty picture for people. We just kind of tell it…we say it like it is and we expect people, you know, to speak their mind and say how it is. Because if we don’t do that then, you know, we’re hiding things from one another and, you know, we’re wasting time.
You know, so with our business, people all over the world, the only cultural thing that we ask of them is to, you know, when you start work, just come into the room, say hello, tell everybody what you’re working on for that day, and then we leave it up to everyone else to work with one another. We control it via, you know, tasks on GitHub. So we’re almost like a glorified open source project in a way and that’s worked pretty well for us.
We don’t really do meetings or anything like that. You know, we want to interrupt people as little as possible and then once a year we do, like, a big catchup. So we’re doing a retreat in Thailand this year. Where we’re flying everybody in.
Everyone gets to meet everybody else.
Nathan: That’s awesome. Yeah, we’re doing that this year, as well. Yeah, it’s going to be awesome.
Stuart: Yeah, you know, and I think you’ve got to decide what works for your business and what type of business that you have but, you know, the good thing about hiring remotely is that you’ve got a much bigger pool of applicants. You know, you’ve got to think about how you pay people. You know, you can contract people so you know…you can contract someone for three months, see if it works out and if it doesn’t then, you know, find somebody else.
But really, you know, you want to…the thing for us, like, we’ve got a lot of developers in Europe and we pay them way above market rates and they’re all super happy because they’re getting paid well. They can live a much better quality of life and they’re really happy to come to work and they’re really happy to do the work and, you know, we give them flexibility.
And I think that’s really important. You’ve just got to think about, you know, what does my employee want versus what the company wants? You know, you’ve got to balance. I’ve got some friends that work at agencies. They’re working, like, 60 hours a week getting paid, like, peanuts. You know? They’re getting dirty looks if they leave before 5:00 type thing and that’s not a healthy environment for people.
You know, in my mind, if you’re still at your desk at 5:00, it’s like you’re not working efficiently. You’re not working optimally. You know, how can we get more done faster? And, you know, then you go and enjoy yourself. Like, you know, don’t be worried about working weekends. Don’t be worried about working in the evenings. You know, unless something’s broken or something like that.
Nathan: So you don’t work on weekends or evenings, man?
Stuart: I do. Yeah. I do but I don’t ask that of anybody else. Because our core business is most of the United States, Saturday morning is busy for me because it’s still Friday there and everyone leaves everything to the last minute on Fridays.
And then Monday morning is, like, amazing. It’s, you know, tranquility because it’s Sunday. There’s nothing in my inbox. Monday’s my day to, like…that’s why I enjoy it so much. Just to get stuff done.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. That’s crazy. You make me feel bad, man, because most of our team is remote but we’ve got an office here and we’re starting to build that team out in Melbourne. But dude, like, I always sleep in on Saturdays, man.
Stuart: Do you have kids? You don’t have kids?
Nathan: No, no, no.
Stuart: When you have kids, that won’t be an option anymore, man.
Nathan: Yeah, that’s crazy.
Stuart: Imagine that you have a permanent 6:00 a.m. alarm clock on weekends. That’s what having kids does.
Nathan: Oh, wow.
Stuart: Yeah. So my wife and I take turns. So on Saturday morning, I get up with the kids. Let her, you know, sleep in, make her breakfast in bed. I do, you know, a bit of work just, you know, whatever needs done and then Sundays, she lets me sleep in. And then, you know, we kind of try and leave, you know, afternoon Saturday/Sunday to do family stuff. But, you know, because I work from home, I’m around the family all the time so, I mean, it’s not like I’m, you know, gone or anything.
I’m there for dinner time every night. I’m there in the morning for breakfast. You know, I help put the kids to bed every night. You’ve kind of got, you know…that’s a whole other talk track but, you know, finding that sort of family balance and work balance is I think really important. You know, it can be very easy to become a work-a-holic and distance yourself, especially if you’re working a job and, you know, trying to build something on the side.
Nathan: Yeah, I agree. But, no, it sounds like you’ve got a pretty good thing going on there, man. Like, yeah, just from knowing you, man. Like it seems like you’ve got a pretty good work-life balance.
Stuart: Yeah. The only thing you miss is sort of…you know, you do miss the human interaction. So, you know, Friday work drinks. And so, we have a coworking space in Melbourne that we go into once a week. You know, we’ve got four employees in Melbourne so we go in there, we catch up, we do lunch, we joke around, whatever and that kind of fulfills that.
Nathan: Yeah, that’s fair enough. No, that’s awesome, man. Well look, dude, we have to work towards wrapping up but super pumped about this list building course because not only are you really strong at this stuff, you’ve seen some, like, next level crazy inside strategies that people are doing stuff through Gleam, so you know a lot of stuff when it comes to building a list and how to rapidly grow it and build an email database really fast.
So I’m really excited to share this course and to share like, you know, everything you’ve learned with our community. I know it’s going to help so many people but, dude, where’s the best place that people can find out more about yourself, your work, and Gleam?
Stuart: Yeah, so check out the Gleam blog. We’ve got a whole bunch of stuff on there. You know, they can follow me on Twitter. We also have, like, a growth email list on the blog that we send out. Where I’ve been trying to do a lot more emails around, you know, like personal success and personal failures around the company rather than, you know, stuff that can help other founders. I think that’s the important thing. You know, the email stuff, it’s all tactical, you know, and in the list building course we go into heaps of cool tactics and we look at, you know, what businesses have done either using my tool or other tools to grow their list.
And I think that’s super important. I think it’s also, you know, important to look at, you know, the foundational things as to how people are running their business, as well. So the email list kind of goes into a bit of that. We’re doing heaps of good work at the moment. So I’ve got two marketing guys. We’re working on heaps of guides at the moment to target specific industries and how they can better use our product.
We’ve just rolled out one on how to give out coupon codes and all the different tactics that people are using. We’re creating one for Shopify at the moment. How to specifically grow your list with Gleam if you’ve got a Shopify store. We’re creating one around Amazon. If you’re an Amazon product seller, what are some of the ways you can use Gleam? Amazon have just released these new coupon codes that are activated by links.
You create them in the backend and it gives you a unique link that you can share with people. So some of these people are putting them into our campaigns and incentivizing people to get the coupon that gets activated instantly. There’s all this cool stuff you can do. So we’re trying to…you know, we try to create, like, general guides that give you an overview of how to use the product and we’re trying to create a lot more of these specific guides around specific tactics, specific strategies so you can go in there, get a really quick view as to how to execute within, like, 30, 40 seconds.
And we’re trying to add ways where you can copy the templates, as well. So here’s the template, you can use script copy, it’ll build most of it for you, as well. So things like that. That was kind of a long-winded answer but, you know, that’s what we’ve realized. You know, those sorts of guides where we actionably show someone how to do something are the ones that work best for us.
Nathan: Yeah, that’s where it’s at, man. Your content’s awesome. Yeah, you do really, really good content marketing. That’s a great thing to check out. So gleam.io. G-L-E-A-M.io and we’ll have to wrap there, man, but it was an absolute pleasure speaking with you, as always.
Can’t wait to launch this course and share it with you and, yeah, we’re still going to edit it and go through it. We’ll do one course at a time but man, it’s going to be crazy. And, yeah, thank you so much for your time, Stuart. I really appreciate it, man.
Stuart: My pleasure, as always. Always a pleasure talking to you and if anyone subscribes to the course, I think there’s, you know, links in there to give me feedback or contact me directly or if you want to talk about specific strategies. That sort of thing. You know, always welcome to see what people are conjuring up and doing and yeah, hope to speak to you guys again soon.
Key Resources From Our Interview With Stuart McKeown: