Online Marketing – Mastering The Dark Art With Syed Balkhi, Founder of OptinMonster

Online Marketing – Mastering The Dark Art With Syed Balkhi, Founder of OptinMonster

I’m going to bring the best of all
those platforms into work ecosystem it because people in this ecosystem don’t
want to go compete with or use those outsides offers. Hey everybody, this is Roland Frasier
with business lunch. Welcome to the show. I have my guest today. SIADH
Belkey SIADH welcome to the show. Thank you for having me. I’m excited. We’ve been trying to do
this for a while now. Both the schedule is kind of challenging.
You have built a, an amazing, really multifaceted eight
figure business from nothing. And I’m, I would love to have you first just
kinda tell everybody a little bit about, uh, the different company or the company
name that you want and the, um, and, and um, where you are
right now. And then, uh, we’ll kind of go into
the how you got there. Yeah, for sure. So we operate in
a marketing tech software, uh, primarily in the marketing space. Optin monster is one of the more well
known software that helps you convert abandonment windows. Uh, but we have a suite of
software from monster insights
in the WordPress space who WP forms and uh, formidable form of MemberPress pretty
links like a whole suite of WordPress software that’s running
on over 9 million websites now. Millions and millions
of websites. That’s so cool. So how did you get into this
in the first place? What was, if we go back to the first SIADH is not
an entrepreneur time and a into your first venture, what was it? Um, my parents moved from Pakistan, the U S and I was 12 years
old and we were pretty broke, like most immigrant families and I
just needed to find a way to make money online or just make money in general. And my cousin told me you could do
that online and illegal way illegal and illegal [inaudible] credit
cards. Yeah. And um, I basically started at 12 forum posting
for other marketers at the time. That’s how I got my start at forum
posting. Yeah. Cause you know, at the time online forums
were a thing and people, people would hire folks to be under
fake names and do posts in it. The forums look alive. So that’s what I
started when I was 12 years old and 12, 12. Yeah. And it, it would, it would
pay me enough money to buy a mountain. Do you and other junk food do
to keep you up to your right. [inaudible] the profits were
concerned in the and uh, but yeah, I got any domain from
there and moved downward. So what, what happened next?
You were doing that and uh, ah, I realized that I couldn’t really
get money all, all of it out from it. So I just started, started like telling
the guy to pay me in domain credits. Okay. Um, so I got there to, to buy
domain names and I started doing that. And then, uh, I was in high school, I wanted to play games and everything
was blocked, uh, eh, in high school. So I learned like how [inaudible]
Googling, like how do you get around this? And apparently you can do a
proxy, you can use a proxy. So I started looking up
all the different proxies, but apparently they were all blocked. So I learned how to make a
proxy and I learned how to code. So they were blocking IPS basically
or blocking names. Okay. Oh domains. I just, I had so many domain and that, Oh I can make a proxy and then
start playing games in high school. And that like kind of gave me an idea, Oh proxies can actually make money
cause my proxy started getting a lot of traffic. Just knowing like you know,
apparently people are tracking scripts, proxy scripts for other legal activities
people wanted to do with it I guess. Right. So I started getting a
ton of traffic and I was like, why don’t you use your ads on it? And
like that’s a good idea to do that. And if they’re put throwing some ads
on and making money and like Oh more traffic equals more money and now
you’re high school still, right. I’m still okay. I’m still in high school. What kind of money is just start making
a few hundred bucks a month right now, which is amazing, right? Yeah. For high school kid and a and
I’m like okay this is awesome. The more traffic I get, the more money
I make. How do I get more traffic? And that led me down
the rabbit hole of, uh, my space promotions, my space where the thing at the time and
kind of blowing up. So I started like, how do I gain, gain my space
followers to, to grow, you know, send bulletin boards, which would like
newsletter blasts. So dabbled into that. Learn how I can get more traffic.
Okay, how do I get more like SEO? Okay, how do you do SEO? And I started learning
all things about SEO and link builder, you learning Google, I’m just Googling. Just Google to just documents
that come up. As a matter of fact, YouTube wasn’t that big
at the time. 2007 or six. So I that right now in this period we’re
looking at Oh four Oh five. Okay. Yeah. So I’m 15 years old and
trying to dabble into SEO. So they are like different by master
forums out there. Um, and just go, just Googling, right?
Different things. Okay. This and people are talking about
different blackout techniques, like at techniques and all this. So just learn that and he started dabbling
into getting more and more traffic from SEO. Okay. Uh, and then, you know, Google started making this shift into
from static content and dynamic content. And I wanted like what is
dynamic content, right? And turns out blogs and that’s how I
discovered WordPress in 2006. Okay. So now you’re still there. You don’t own any software companies
or anything like that there. You’re still kind of going for how
do I get traffic and right. Not, um, what was the next evolution? Um, I that
was learning all of this. You know, my mom’s friends were like, Hey you,
what do you do? My mom was like, Oh, he builds websites. I started getting these local like
website clients and all this, some bills. I started building the service
business and we make it right. So now I’m started making a decent money
with this. Um, I’m learning all this, all this social media stuff because
social media like stumbled upon or are out. And so I’m like,
okay, this is really cool. And I happened to become a power
user on date, which means, you know, if I submit an article,
here’s the front page, 80,000 unique visitors on the fly
and people are like, Oh my God, you have a lot of power, you
know, power on the traffic side, 50% of my articles will
hit the front page. So I’m like legit power
user at this point. Yeah. So started doing topic consulting and um, at the same time got into
affiliate marketing. Okay. So what was the first thing
your affiliates, it was
like hosting. Okay. Yeah, hosting. Was it always digital?
Never like tennis. So no, I, I did like several like zip submit,
Lee, you know, email, submit offers. But those were like short
lived. Um, but yeah, sorry, I started doing digital products and
never, it never really went down. Supplements or any of those. Are
there other verticals you’re doing? Affiliate marketing, affiliate
marketing, traffic consulting. And then I realized I wanted out of my
small web development job, you know, because I was starting
getting bigger clients. I didn’t want the small mom and
pop. Uh, and where I was, uh, still doing management where, you know, I had a team of like three or four
people at this time, so I wanted out, but I cared a lot about, a lot about the small business cause I
knew they didn’t have the resources that you’re still fairly young and you’re
hiring people. It’s a right. Yeah. What was that like? Um, very
interesting cause like everybody, like D was just some kid, right? Most people didn’t really respect the
fact cause you’re like, you’re a teenager, you know, you’re high school kid.
I’m 16. I graduated high school. Like I’ve been in college, I’m 16
years old. And people were like, okay, you know, no respect. But what they did value was
that my profile and stumbled
upon my profile on big, my profile on this thing because I had
so much traffic and there like, okay, this kid knows what he’s doing.
Um, so I did get credits for that. But otherwise it was like, you
know, hiring people like, OK, you, you don’t know. You clearly don’t have
the people that were older than you. Of course. Yeah. Everybody
is weird. Right? So, so exhibit I wanted to exit that
business. I’ve, you know, said, okay, you know what? WordPress actually makes it super easy
for you to just customize the things you don’t need to pay us to manage that.
How about you pay us a one time fee, we’ll move you over to WordPress instead
of the customZ method I had developed and you can manage everything yourself.
Um, most of those companies said, yeah, we’ll do that and we’ll
move them more to WordPress. And it turns out that they’re like,
how do I do this in WordPress? How do I do that? And I’m like, I thought I got rid of all these clients
and I clearly I didn’t. So I said, I started asking other agencies,
what are you doing in there? Well, we have a PDFs. I’m like, that’s not really scalable because
WordPress updates too damn often and screenshots changes if you
have a dynamic video. Right? So I just launched a blog called
WP beginner. And I said, okay, you still have, right? Oh yes. I
have turns 10 years old now. Um, this is Oh nine, I I, you know, built
all the content, launched WP beginner, because at the time I realized that all
these agencies don’t have a solution. All the develop, all the blogs about WordPress were
for developers by developers. Right. And I entailed sushi. Right.
Right. And I said, okay, I’m not going to charge for this. I’m
just going to give you a room for free. Right. Because I was like, if I, you
know, I can just tell me, you know, with the free, and so did you
have that mindset or that, yeah. Is there a model you were looking at or
anything or did you just kind of come up with that? Um, no, I,
I was falling on mat. Mickey wakes from psych point at the
time and I seen what he was able to do with, with his traffic
base and everything. And I
was like, this is really, really cool. Um, I saw what a
Darren Rouse was able to do. What did deal photography school, uh, and pro blogger at the time was
still relatively new. And I’m like, this is really cool. You know, what these, what these guys were able to
do and spoke us on these niche. I mean there’s other people as
well. I’m never doing blogging very, very successfully come
on. And I’m like this is, I can do this but I don’t want to just
rely on blogging income because I, I realized that their software
to be created here. Um, and Marcus was in infancy at
the time. He’s still six year. She realized software. There were software to be created by
no idea how to do and no. Yeah. But um, and were you still doing the
affiliate marketing as well? Yeah. That would the primary, uh, mode of income
at the time. Um, for our WP beginner. Um, cause I realize I can, I can put organic cause you’re giving
away all this free content right? Where you ad supported. Um,
for ratio period of time. I was ad supported and
then I realized that, uh, we didn’t make enough
money on the ads. Um, w which has been something Silicon
Valley has been discovering that you want to make a lot of money in
the ads and the value of WCB going to audience. It was not, you know, it was small audience but very targeted
audience and very warm audience. Um, so I could make a lot more money by taking
a rough share deal than a monthly ad bill. And I started going down
that route and um, and you know, just it was purely user fed content. Users would ask questions on Twitter and
all these platforms and we’d just turn it into content. You were scraping
content from other sites. Basically I was, I would go to I typed
though type WordPress and look at all the questions people are asking about
WordPress and nobody to answer those questions correct. It’s kind of like
a Cora, it was like core our answer, the public that you have now
before they, before they existed, which was pretty cool. And that helped
me get a ton of long tail traffic. Um, and I started, I started
getting links. I actually, we actually ended up becoming, and the unofficial documentation for
every WordPress plugin at the time because developers didn’t really all, all the popular ones because those
developers weren’t really good at writing documentation and with the new ecosystem. And we were writing how to tutorials
for us to hassle for them. So it’s like, yeah, it’s not like they make money
from writing the documentation. So if somebody else is doing it for
free, they’re gonna like, yeah, go there. Yeah, exactly. So we started getting this word of
mouth network WordCamps which had worked press focus conferences. People
started recommending WP beginner, the free resource and the word of mouth
just starts expressing so cool. Um, and distinct grew. And I’m
like, okay, this is cool. Let’s start looking at what are the
needs that I have and what are the needs that our users have, right. Um, where
are they getting more clicks, et cetera. And we just looked at, okay,
people want more subscribers. And this is something I’m
struggling with right now. Um, people want share buttons is something
I’m struggling with right now. And I just started looking at
building plugins. And now that’s, that’s a big leap, right? Cause I should, I should do software cause I know
a lot of people that go there. I had that idea. I know. Look at
you never did anything about it. What did you do to go from not
knowing how to do any software at all? To building something? Yeah, especially back then because it wasn’t
as drag and drop for sure as now. Right. So, so, you know, I learned how to code because I
didn’t have any in the early days, didn’t have the money
to pay people to code. The beautiful part about WordPress is
open source so you can actually see other people’s code and you
know, reverse engineering. I’m pretty good at reverse
engineering things. Right. So, so I started looking at like, Oh, you’re
doing this yourself, the coatings. Yeah. How did you learn? I literally open the source file and
started learning and then Googling what does this PHP function mean? Then
what does this mean? Right? Uh, I had learned a little bit when I coded
my original CMS to build some of the websites. So I knew how
to code. I, you know, people know what a CMS content
management system, right? Yeah. So, so I learn how to code in early days.
I wasn’t the best coder. I’m still, I still suck at coding, but I can
prototype, which is important. I can make crappy fast.
Have you passed out? And um, so in 2013, like, well past for they rewind back a
little, two years, two years earlier, a lot of WordPress developers started
like coming to me and asking me for advice on how do you market, because I am the biggest media blog in
WordPress at the time. And they’re like, how, what our users need, cause I’m,
I had the pulse on the industry. So I started helping people and I met,
I met one of the developers at the time, uh, named Thomas Griffin. And
he was like, Hey, um, I’m you, I see you promoting the other product.
I’m building this product killer, right? And I’m like, well in that case you
probably want to add this feature, this feature, this feature,
and when you’re ready, come back to me to help me market it.
Nice. Um, he took the ideas disappeared. I ran into him at another event and
you start chatting about it. He like, Oh yeah, I didn’t know how to reach
you, blah, blah, blah, whatever. And then had he released a product,
he released a product. Right. Um, long story short, we actually ended
up partnering up on optin monster. OK. and uh, we launched optin monster and was optin
monster and outgrowth of his product or was it something that was brand new? I had already build a prototype that I
was using on WP beginner because I wasn’t too happy with the existing
solutions in the market. They didn’t have exit popup, like they
were time pop off the scroll popups, but no exit up. And I was like,
time Paul was, were annoying. People were complaining about it. Even
to this day, I just got so annoyed. It’s like, I just got your website. No, I don’t want us to try to read the thing
that I came here to. Exactly. But you, at the time publishers didn’t
have a better option and
I knew that once you left my website, I lost you pretty much. Right. Most people want to come back and I
needed to get you in my email list. I can run it down to a drip funnel so
I can make some money. Right, right. So I was like, okay, I just start
thinking like, wait a minute. What’s the time when I can capture the
user where they will be least unhappy when they’re leaving. They’ll have
site, like, how do you do this? Turns out jQuery. You had a
simple function mouse out. Right now they’re just tracks from the
mosque, leaves up [inaudible] plane. And I’m like, that’s it. I’m going to write a code that just
does this very barebone bound line. So were you the first one that did
that? Um, no, believe it or not, they were the company. I mean that,
you know of the other one at the, no, did not know the other one. There was a
company that, that guy did in Oh seven, Oh eight. It was a internet
marketer who did this. Uh, I, I think he was the first one
who ever do the exit pop up. I found a YouTube video. I’m showing a
prototype. And you’re like, uh, yeah, so, so like I, I looked at it,
I’m like, this is really cool. And I call it exit intent. Um, and
people were like, this is really cool. How are you doing this? And
then that’s pretty cool. I didn’t know how to coin that
word. Intense trademark. Trademark. It’s trademark. We don’t enforce it very well because
it’s kind of become like Xbox now. Yeah. Uh, so that was a, is there a certain way, let’s say we started that and built
this industry, but people are like, we want that. We want OptinMonster.
Does it work outside of WordPress? No. And that kind of gave
birth to a whole industry. It took us a year and a half
to go outside of WordPress. It turned into a SAS and we’ll knock
it off outside very quickly. Yeah. Started happening really, really fast.
And how did, how did you deal with that? Is that obviously it’s annoying,
right? Very rarely did you say, let’s go Sue them. Let’s,
I don’t know what to do. We’re just going to sit on it for
awhile. How did he deal with that? So, so because optin monster
is a WordPress plugin, in the early days it was GPL and
open source, the way GPL works, you can take the code and redistribute,
repurpose it however you want, really do anything or you couldn’t
really do much about it. Um, but we were able to do first mover
advantage. Our brain was really good. So in order for the other
products to explain what they did, they had to kind of do
go to the VP beginner, well that and then like they
will all link to my case study, like how we grew our traffic
by 600%. And you’re like, Oh, I have to monster two. Exactly. Um, or
they would say it’s an exit intent popup, like OptinMonster. So even when they’re doing like press
releases and entrepreneur Forbes were, were covering, they will always mention
us to describe our competitor, you know, um, which was really, really good. So
when we entered, so we’re like, Oh, we have to do something about it. We entered a SAS market and we were
able to capture that market share. Um, but once we kind of understood
like how that software, because before this software, I had
a sharing plugin and that was the, that was the first really foray into,
into the software. And I’m like, this is really cool. Um, I think we understand this market and
we’re a little bit more savvy than we have. We have an unfair advantage
that we have this media outlet, right? We have the user base, we have a good
pulse on it. And just from there started, um, looking into companies to partner
with, um, either acquire fully, um, acquire 60% majority stake or, or higher
or like requirement minority stake. And then from there just kind
of went on a one after another, one after another and 100% bootstraps. I didn’t raise any round or anything
and just like one after another. So have you, um, have you raised
money? No. No, no. Totally. Totally. Yeah. And um, you’ve grown a lot
lately through acquisitions. Yeah. Tell me about the first
time that you did that. Um, I know sometimes you
can’t talk about things. So right within the bounds of pick
one that you can talk about. And um, I’d love to hear what was the
experience like going from, I’ve never done that before to Hey,
I’d kinda like to buy that. Um, yeah, so, so I realize, you know, every year I started I would do a
census survey on WP beginner in it. It had like a bunch of questions.
But one of my favorite questions, which we ask all the time, if you
could have us build one product, what would it be and how much would
you pay for it? How much would you pay? So the people, people would give us an, and the answer kept coming contact more
and I’m like, wait, contact form this, this market is well served already. There are so many like hundreds of
contacts with plugins out in WordPress and then outside what is wrong? So we started
doing interviews and people were like, Oh, it’s not user friendly, this issue,
blah, blah, like dozens of issues. Right? So I started trying to buy a
contact form and nobody wanted to do it. So I said, okay, I’m going to
build my own, but I want to, I figured out that I need to
buy that. That’s the way to go. And then the cousin was
going to take too much time, too much time to build right from the
ground up and it have feature parity with the established competitors who have
like seven year advantage on you. Um, the other thing was analytics. People
kept asking analytics, analytics, analytics. I’m like, wait,
what’s the issue with analytics? Yost already had a product
called for analytics. I don’t even know if you also
is going to sell this to me. So I reached down to a
smaller player in the market. I’m going to start talking to me like, well now I actually just partnered with
somebody else. I really can’t sell this. And just out of the blue, Yost
pinks me on Skype, he’s like, Hey, uh, do you want to buy this? Had he
heard or I have no idea. Is this random how of this guy who’s made,
you know, Yoast? Yeah. We, I mean we’ve been in the same
space, so he was thinking, Hey, I kind of don’t want this anymore.
Corral talk to the people. That would be interesting. I, yeah,
exactly. I had a good reputation on, in the space and he knew that I was
looking into plugging space. Uh, I’d never communicated with him that I
wanted to buy an analytics software who just reached out. He like,
Hey, you are somebody I trust. I want to let you know, I’ll be happy to sell you this business
because I wanted to go in the hand of somebody who is not going to abuse the
user base. That’s the big concern. Right. And I’m like, dude, what
are the odds that, um, I was really looking for an analytics
software. Let’s make it happen. And it was a quick deal because there
was so much trust between the parties. And what was it concerning? Um, I’m assuming you had to pay a reasonable
amount of money for it. Yeah. Okay. Um, was it scary at all going and doing that?
Um, no, it was very well established. We had, we had a pretty good business,
uh, you know, being bootstrapped, we’ve been pretty financially
conservative. We, we have, we keep a good cash flow to
make investments in things. So we had the cash in the bank, so we
just went, okay, we’ll acquire it. Yeah. And it was not a big risk. Yeah. It wasn’t a huge risk for us
and it was aligned very well to, to cross sell and things like that. Um, we took it and I knew it was
under optimized cause that Yost, his main focus was the SEO business
and not in analytic software. So we’re able to go in, make quick
improvements, recover our money way, way faster. And I’m like, this is
really cool. We need to do this. And then as WP farm started, so we took w forms from zero to 2 million
in three years and user base wise, they, you know, it was just unreal, like of the fastest growing form
solution in the market right now. So these were, these were,
uh, acquisitions for money
basically now, right. Trade swaps. No, no, no. Create a, yeah,
no, no, no domestic. You can exactly. Yeah. So, so those would
be examples of um, uh, line extensions basically
and market extensions. You’ve got the same market of WordPress
users you’re giving the similar kind of products that go come that are compatible
with the ones you glide. Yeah. And um, did that extend outside of just guys cause
optin monster had already gone to SAS solution. Did you also plan to take those products
outside of the WordPress environment? No, because I, I learned like some lessons I’m
taking off the muster outside was, was that, you know, when you operate in an ecosystem you
have some inherent advantages. Um, you know exactly who your market is,
you know exactly how to market to them. You can work out distribution deals. I’m much better than anything
else where it says outside you, it’s a level playing field.
Anybody can go on Facebook and bed. Your mode isn’t that large. It in
WordPress we have a pretty large mode. We own the biggest media side. We
have extremely great reputation. We have extremely great relationships
for being in the space along. And you know, we have channel partners,
agency partners, distribution partners. It just didn’t mean I’m like us, I eat focused, just double down on this area
because we have an unfair advantage. So w when we got WB forms, I’m like, I’m not going to go compete with woo foo
or survey monkey to the billion dollar business or type warm. I’m going to bring the best of all those
platforms into work pass ecosystem it because people in this ecosystem don’t
want to go compete with or use those outsides offers. Yeah. So I like now my biggest focus is bringing
on the best of the SAS world is you know, features and ease of use and
usability inside the ecosystem, which you know, powers 35%
of the web. Yeah, sure. I don’t get 100% of the users, but I get a pretty large chunk over 35%
of the web. Yeah. That’s pretty awesome. So, um, so you’ve started, you started acquiring these
things, now you’ve expanded and um, what, what were the other big
takeaways from these acquisitions? You mentioned that you had a
lot from yeah. From doing this. So the biggest thing I
learned was that w you know, you have an imposter syndrome as
an entrepreneur, you’re like, ah, am I really qualified to do
this? Am I really good at this? But when you acquire the
business, I’m like, Oh, I actually am pretty far
ahead in this thing. Right? I need to go do more of this. I like
[inaudible] so I’m like, okay, I need, I need to do more. Um, and then that
kinda gave bar to us like looking at, um, you know, other alignments
cause we were like, it’s a lot easier to cross sell our
own products and the more we can do it right, the buyers exactly is right. So
you had the famous scaled, you know, like dress, I’m like, okay, how, what, what else can we add and what
other problems can be solved? And then it just open
thing. I knew the process, like how do outreach my brand was well
known, said okay we have WP forms. One of the big problems that users
have, they worked with the most, don’t get delivered because their hosting
companies are not SMTP servers. Right. Okay. What’s the problem? Well Oliver, everybody’s recommending this SMTP
plugin. It exists. It has 600,000 users. All my competitors are recommending it. And let me see who owns this one
developer. Well, let me just approach him, see if we would sell it to me and then
I can call it WP mail, SMTP by WP forms. And now I can market to all
of my competitors, you know, users and our brand
goes out all that. Okay. That’s pretty cool. All right, what else
can we, so then I said, you know what, um, I want to work with within the ecosystem
and work with other entrepreneurs cause I really enjoy networking
with entrepreneurs. Um, so and w we had a pretty healthy cash
flow and everything and like I need to reinvest this and I understand the
ecosystem. I bound for advantage. So I created my own growth fund. Um,
and it started investing in do other, other companies in that. So I
launched the accelerator, um, and it was just like, Hey, I can add a lot of value because we have
the user base for cross sell point of view, um, while taking an equity
stake into businesses. So then we, um, acquired a stake into a formidable forums, which are they in alternative WP forms, WT form focusing on more
business and beginner users. Formidable is very advanced focused on
developer and does Tanya unique coatings. So it took a stake in
that, uh, like okay, uh, essential software you have a membership
is a platform level software and like, okay, cool. We already know did a big
need. Membership sites are growing. Membership economy, you know,
you read the book, it’s like, uh, the culture shift and like, Oh, like
member presses offer, I know the guy, I like him, approach them, invest,
took a stake in that company. They had a fleet of software,
pretty links, uh, affiliate Royale. So now we have never an affiliate
marketing space as well. Cool. And okay, what else, what are the success gaps
when you’re starting a WordPress site? Well, a lot of people don’t know how you
define a success gap. I have two types. Um, one is external, like what your product does and what
the customer needs for them to be successful. So that gap could be
anything in a WordPress, you know, a form plugin. Well, they need to
have a first WordPress website. They need to have training,
they need to have marketing, they need to have all that thing, right? So that’s external and internal aid
while your product does and what the customer thinks it should do for them to
be successful. And that could be like, you know, forums where they want us to
create surveys. But like we were like, Oh, you can create surveys. Well,
they don’t really want surveys. They user wants beautiful
reports. So that’s successful. So I’m talking about external
success gap. We wanted to fill it. So I’m looking at, okay, uh, when you
start a WordPress website, what’s the gap? What, what, what is, what’s
the Nashville flow of users? I started thinking about, you know,
really my leg, small details. Um, before you choose a theme, it’s
really hard to choose a theme. There are like thousands
of them out there. People just put up a coming soon page.
Right. And I’m like, wait a minute, that’s a great entry point to
bring our products, more exposure. Let me go take it. They acquired most
popular coming soon. Page login. Nice. So we did, so just started
looking at, you know, uh, so we just started to
what’s cool about it as, as that you’re in a system that is
a CA that is a confined system. Yep. And you have the dominant
system. So there’s many, how many WordPress installations
are there over the world? Uh, hundreds of millions. Hundreds of
millions. So it’s a, it’s a giant market. I know. It is an echo
ecosystem, right? And um, you’re just [inaudible] what’s
cool about it is, is that, uh, there isn’t because of the open
source nature, a dominant player. So as anybody who’s innovating, you just
come along and say, that’s cool. Hey, want to sell it to me? Or Hey,
when a partner, right? Or, Hey, want our fund to throw some money.
Right. It’s so cool. So smart. Yeah. How did you do the fund? Because
you didn’t know how to do a fund. You’re not to Desmond banker.
Right, exactly. So, uh, you know, as we were talking earlier before the
podcast that I met my mentor when I was 14 and he had a huge influence on me and
from business point of view, um, so, you know, like had an opportunity to hang
out with his network and other really, really successful folks. A mentor. You
don’t have to say who it is, but yeah, he’s a massive real estate business,
lives in Boca Raton, Florida. So I’d love to chat for a minute
about that. Yeah. So 14. Yeah. And how did you guys meet? I, I’m
from Pakistan. Cricket is a big sport, um, and I want to do play cricket
in us. And he had a league, a [inaudible] league. And you played
cricket? Yeah, I used to. I don’t anymore. Um, but, uh, game going here later. I’m
just kidding. So that’s really cool. And um, okay, so you did that and then you just
started talking business or how did that evolve? So I, you know, I was not
making a lot of money at the time. We were pretty broke.
And I see this, you know, Pakistani gentleman who’s
very successful. So I’m like, for me, none of nobody in my
family was really well off. So this was like a role model. I didn’t
even know this could, this could happen. There’s this, a Pakistani guy has
a lot of money and so I just like, I was frying, I’m like, how did you do
this? You know, like a 14 year old kid. Yeah. All of the lack of cultures
that grew, right, which is good. So, and he’s like, you know, he starts
telling me, Oh, I had to do real estate, blah blah. At one time you won a game.
And he invited us to his house. You know, this is like a 16,000 square
foot mansion and you know, like horses and horse running
like legit tennis court. Everything you get. I’m like
his mind blown, you know? And then they started like, he has
three kids, I’m, his daughter’s, my age son is like, yo, you’re younger.
And another son, like, you know, several years younger. So it just like kind of chat started
talking with them and he was like, I like you, you’re a good kid. And I was
really interested in everything. Yeah. So you just like started mentoring,
you know, and he started telling me, I would ask him questions,
just genuinely curious. Right. And he saw that I had to drive, so he
would like to say, what are you doing now? You know, he would just
kind of play the role model. Asked me the question question, kind
of like a guide. Yeah. Uh, you know, and I would just talk to him about the
different business. He’s like, well, you should think about it this
way. And I was like, ah, Oh that’s, that’s pretty cool. And didn’t ever
think about it that way. Right. Um, so very fortunate, formal
kind of thing or, no, just as basically if you needed
help you call them and correct. He’d call and check out. Yeah. It
became like he’s a family friend now, you know, so, so yeah. So he’s just kind
of become, become that relationship, but not formal. No, I had never paid him a dime for anything
you think of formal memberships in our mentorships and mentorship program I
think is very, very important. That, you know, it’s like if you’re an
athlete, like take LeBron James, like, you know how many professional like
coaches and things that he has for everything from massage therapist to
this, you, that’s his, you know, this, this is competency. That’s how he makes
money. He needs trainers to improve. Yeah. You, if you’re an entrepreneur, you need that network to improve and you
can only improve if you hang out with people at the same level
or smarter than you. If you’re a smart person in the room,
you need a new room. Yeah. So, yeah, I highly valued and part of
like, you know, more room, uh, and total the groups as
well. So, so, so did he, um, help you with the fund then? He or had
connections or whatever? Like, you know, I’d been part of like other LPs where I
invested a little bit of money and cause I had the cash. Um, and so I understood the
model and so created a LP to, to invest in companies in LPs. Limited
partners. Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Um, what is the next adventure?
Um, so, uh, I, you know, I stepped out of optin monster last year, step out that would be
forms this year. Um, I, we’re analytics software with monster
insights that I bought from iOS, but then I also, we also ended up acquiring her the
opportunity to acquire our second biggest competitor. Um, so I actually
want to, um, who was that? Uh, it was called Google analytics
dashboard for WordPress, GAD WP. So we acquired that. It was a one man show and I want to step
into the analytics market and disrupt that a little bit. Nice. Launch a premium
offering for exact metrics and um, just go from there. Sweet.
That’s exciting. So do you
travel much at all? Uh, yeah. I tried to take a trip
with my family once a month. Uh, we’re actually going, uh, two days from now we’re going to
a stumble and Munich and Vienna. I try to take one trip
a month with my family, about two and a half year old and a
beautiful wife. Yeah, that’s really cool. So, um, when you do that, are there any things that you have
found hack wise that make your travels easier, more comfortable, less
expensive, more expensive, et cetera? Uh, yeah, it’s, uh, I, I’ve, I’ve
learned few different things, you know, point hacks. Uh, definitely. So we have like some contacts
who have like ton of points. We just sell you points
to, to book things. I, uh, also got a very great trick from you have
hotel hackings so you can get upgrades of book, this book, the highest category
of, you know, the lowest point thing. And then you get the next, next, next
thing. Um, that’s worked for me, uh, uh, four or five times now and I’ve used
it. And, um, so yeah, so like that, that works really well. And then, you
know, just like if you see something like, you know, we don’t always stay
in, in, um, in like hotels, we would go and get like luxury,
you know, vacation rentals. Uh, and this under cut the middleman and
that, that tends to work. Relatedly, you find them, contact them, go
direct. Right, exactly. And that, that tends to cut down
like a significant present. What do you read now or
consume information wise,
listen to watch, et cetera, to kind of stay up on things and stay
ahead of the curve. So, you know, in when I was first
starting out, you know, traffic was the biggest thing I wanted
to learn everything about trapping conversion. Now it would, it would
establish a recurring revenue business. My biggest focus focus is retention
and net revenue churn. Right? So I have my biggest burgers in
learning and everything is like, how would we grow expansion revenue, how do we keep our net
revenue churn and negative. We’re not in negative like last quarter,
we’re a 0.06. So we were pretty clear. We’re pretty darn loosely negative. Yeah.
I’m real excited about that. Um, so, so yeah, so like my alignment focuses
on that to read a really cool book, um, uh, extreme revenue
growth by Victor Chang. A really good software focused or is it kind of [inaudible] actually just business focus and you know, you really easily read our revenue growth. Actually revenue growth
by Victor Chang, you know, it’s a book that you don’t really
necessarily hear about a lot, you know, but it’s really, really good
hits hits the point home. Um, so, so that was really good. I do listen to a podcast by Nathan let
go because just too many people just go in and share their numbers. Yeah,
it is amazing. It is amazing. And you know, you would never find any, any resource like Nathan’s that have
that I data on private companies. So it’s really good for competitive
intelligence that he does is just, yeah, I mean I would
never go on his show, but I do appreciate everybody else [inaudible]
opportunity for me. Um, but yeah, just like, you know, keeping up and
looking into research this like, uh, like there’s a lot of,
uh, as we are growing, um, operational efficiencies and
reading books. We’re not, that line is right. Also very important. Any books that have been particularly
besides the one that you mentioned impactful for you? Yes, a traction by Gino Wickman, uh, has played a massive role in our
organizational restructuring. We implemented EOS of
course, tweaked it now, uh, to work well with our organization. But we implemented it two years ago and
probably one of the better decisions I made cause I have not a COO
or, you know, the general, if you think about that
like operational side. So this was really good to have a
system that we can use and it has worked really, really well for us.
Um, I mean there’s a lot, a lot of good books from a
motivational point of view, from inspirational point of
view, but, um, but you know, you can read a ton ton of those and your nuggets out, any gadgets or, uh, toys or other things like that that
you have found that are super cool that you’ve bought and are enjoying.
And it can be a camera. It could be a thing that
makes your bed cold. Did he? Um, I mean, I have
been fortunate to, to have, uh, tons of toys. Uh, I, you know, met a fellow board member
who sent me a massage chair, like a complete robust two medic.
Uh, that’s a really cool toy. Um, I, I’m into cars, I have
an abortion at 11, and that’s, that’s pretty fun to drive every now
and again with the launch mode and all that. Um, so, you know, just like don’t necessarily
want to brag about it. So is is something that you found that
super fun that you’re enjoying? That’s a, yeah. It’s always nice to
share that. Yeah. Cool. Well, thank you so much for being here. Uh, for people who want to subscribe to all
your wonderful software and stuff like that, where would they go to do
that? If you want to learn them all? All of my software probably just go
to [inaudible] dot com and click on my company’s links. Y E D B, no, L, K H, I, G H, Right. Okay. And also would it be
optin monster as well? You can go to
for this offer. Awesome. to get a list of all of my
holding [inaudible] awesome motive. Yeah. Okay, awesome. And if they want
it to reach out to you directly, are you on all the socials
and all that? Come on. All the socials with the same users.
I’d volunteer. You can, you know, direct message me or probably method
me where some of the platforms as we, before we sign off at the very end, is there anything that I didn’t ask that
you think I should have asked or that you would like to share or say
to the audience? [inaudible] nah, I think you were pretty well thorough
and asked you everything. You got it. Well now you have to go and see
if you want to wicked smart. I’m assuming that you did because
you want a whole bunch of them, so let’s do that. Thanks everybody for
watching and listening. Appreciate it. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you
for being here. Alright. [inaudible].

Danny Hutson

1 thought on “Online Marketing – Mastering The Dark Art With Syed Balkhi, Founder of OptinMonster

  1. Subscribe to the business lunch podcast 👉

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