Lee Mills is an Entrepreneurial sales and growth marketing leader with proven experience growing startups and scaling companies. Lee will roll up his sleeves to launch sales and marketing strategies that generate ROI. Lee’s startup experience includes leadership roles at Anonymizer, Backup, MojoPages, MOGL, and Raken. Lee sits down with Chris Snyder to discuss how to develop sales and marketing programs that result in revenue growth and funding.
This episode is sponsored by Juhll. They are a full service digital marketing consultancy that has over 20 years of experience helping your business grow sales online. They've helped most of their clients grow more than 50% year over year by helping them meet their digital marketing goals.
Juhll Digital Agency works with companies who are doing $50 million in top line revenue that have a marketing budget of $2 million. They build your company from the ground up and they also help you in creating a strategy that will work best for your team.
[00:00:44] Hello, everyone. Chris Snyder here, host of the Snyder Showdown, president at Juhll.com and founder of Banks.com. On this show, we talk with industry leaders and entrepreneurs about what's working and what's not with their growth programs. In addition, we also want to hear how industry leaders are guiding their teams through a bit of a tough time right now with COVID-19. A quick message from our sponsor, Juhll is a full service digital consultancy, and we focus on helping company executives solve their toughest digital growth problems. We do this while working as an extension of the executive team. Learn more, you can go to Juhll.com. That's Juhll.com. Or you can email me directly – it’s Chris@juhll.com. OK, without further ado, today's guest is Lee Mills - an entrepreneurial sales and marketing growth leader with proven experience growing startups and scaling companies. Lee will absolutely roll up his sleeves to launch sales and marketing strategies that have proven to generate our ally. Lee's startup experience includes leadership roles at Anonymizer, Backup MojoPages, MOGL, and Raken. At the end of the day, Lead Lee builds sales and marketing programs that prove business models that result in funding and driving growth. Thanks for being on the show, Lee. Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.
[00:02:16] Excellent. Excellent. Well, I'm pumped up about that desert background and that beautiful truck you have behind you. I know you. You're down in San Diego, right? You do some four wheeling from time to time.
[00:02:29] Yeah, I'm in North County, San Diego, and I get my inspiration in the surf. And when there's no waves, I like to get out in the desert. And as much as I love technology and everything that comes with it, I also love to be unplugged.
[00:02:42] Yeah, that's great. It looks like a lot of fun as well. So before we get started here, can you tell us a little bit about where you grew up and how you got to where you are today?
[00:02:52] Yeah, for sure. I am actually originally from New Jersey. Asbury Park area, the Jersey Shore, but not quite the MTV Jersey Shore with the nice part of the Jersey Shore. And my parents were New Yorkers. My dad commuted to work every day. So we grew up there. And so I was about 10. And then we moved to South Bend, Indiana. Wow. You also my neighbor. I was a big shocking change in the culture shock. Yeah, culture shock is flat, but it's a great place to grow up. I had the good fortune of learning how to play golf at a young age and was OK at soccer. I actually had to win a trophy. When you played sports back then, you again trophies for participation like you do now. Nope. But I had a great childhood there. And then I went to Holy Cross and then I joined the Navy and the Navy brought me to San Diego in nineteen ninety three. I spent four years on an aircraft carrier. And when I got out of the Navy, I definitely want to stay in San Diego. It's hard to beat San Diego. My dad would say God lives in San Diego. And my dad was actually a creative director and I was riding my motorcycle around PVA trying to say what I was going to do. And I decided I wanted. I always like to draw and I always like to do arts. And I was like always like the paint. So I decided I kind of like, follow my dad's footsteps. I went to advertising school with Photoshop. Was like just coming out. Yeah. Here in FileMaker and everything else. Flash you remember flash to remember flash. Yeah. For sure. And so action script. Yup. Exactly. So I was doing that and working full time as well as a telemarketer. So this was, this is like just the very beginnings of the Internet.
[00:04:35] So I was selling long distance phone services, which was brutal, calling cards were losing and hard days, yet calling card days outlets as a switched from AT&T to MCI and save me nine dollars a month and all that stuff in high pressure sales. But I actually got pretty good at the phone. And honestly, because of that experience, I'm pretty much fearless on the phone. And I did that for a few months. And then while I was finishing up the last few years of school, I worked for a company called Dyle. American Marketing and American Marketing had a great model. They basically call on behalf of clients. So, for example, into a turbo tax is our client. So I'd call a hey, Chris Insley melted into a Turbo Tax. I saw you get Turbo Tax state and federal last year. I got a special right now. And if you're interested and if you want it, I can save you fifteen percent. But the C.D. in the mail tonight. Oh yeah. Something like that. And of course there is hang ups but it wasn't as brutal and I had some success there.
[00:05:31] And I became a sales trainer and an assistant sales manager and then a branch manager and I had like 200 sales reps underneath. But when I graduated school, I did want to be doing telemarketing. Nobody's like crushing it. And telemarketing. Yeah. And so I actually I had a short stint working for the CNN daily transcript, which is and now sadly defunct newspaper.
[00:05:54] But the oldest paper in California at the time. And then the L.A. Times, which is to this day, one of the best jobs I ever had outside sales, selling to resorts and golf courses and everything else. But they wanted me to go from inside sales to I'm sorry, outside sales. Inside sales. Well, so that's kind of us. That's kind of a step backwards, it seems to me. Well, the L.A. Times, this was not doing very well at the time. They had lots of struggles for long times and trying to cut costs. So I took one look at that cubicle and I said, no, thank you. And that's when I jumped in the tech. And so I've got a company called back. Up dot com. You figure out what it did. Backup's ultimatum special, you could schedule your backup because this is before broadband, right? So doing a backup of your machine remote into the cloud would take a day or bring your computer down.
[00:06:48] Like, if you started to do a backup, you would literally slow your computer down to where you couldn't use it.
[00:06:54] Exactly. That's right. And so we had so we had a unique feature where you could show us your backups to be done automatically at like 2:00 in the morning when you're not using it. And it could just be my folders or a certain file. But you could also access those files anywhere, which is like what Dropbox is. We will drive and everything is today. But they were just way early, but they had no marketing budget. So I basically came in and did like affiliate marketing and this, Deb, and started pitching publications and soccer sites to promote backup. And they're like, sure, we'll do that for a three hundred dollars CPM for this flat fee. And I'm like, look, we don't have a marketing budget like that, unfortunately. But I notice you had that same punch to monkey banner up there all day, every day. So I get the idea that you might have some written and ad space. Can I can I get like. Can I do it on that Remen ad space? We just do a test with us. We'll give you know, I'll give you 50 percent of the revenue from a new subscriber. So, yeah, it takes a while to get some traction. But one of the first partners I got was actually Webroot. You remember Webroot? Yeah. And then some small sites that I could use that as a live example.
[00:08:04] And so I'd give I'd give Webroot and other guys like custom banners for their site. So that's like Kopko partnered and a custom landing page with test banners. And we would test calls, the action and all that stuff. And it turned out to work really, really well. So that help us that helped us raise a significant amount of money. We've built our own tracking software called Straight Up to track everything that was sold to Commission. Junction is still Powers Commission Junction's.
[00:08:29] Oh, so now we're coming full circle completely.
[00:08:32] Yeah. Yeah. So that so that experience from from my first experience and startups and tech has really propelled me to where I am today. And it is interesting story because while I was doing that again today, it's all about relationships. And I became friends with my rep for P.c world name was Cindy Crow. I'll never forget this. And she called me up one day and asked me if I could do her favor. Of course. And I think just why have this client called Olympus and they're launching this thing called a digital camera and they don't know how to do it online. Would you mind just telling them how you do backup with P.C. World and others? I'm sure. So I drove up and met with them. And just the same story I just told you with a little bit more color and some data behind it and like, that's what we need. That's great. You didn't do it. That's what I want to help you. We'll give us the number. We want to hire you. And I was completely unprepared for that. I had no anticipation of anything like that happening. I thought I was doing a favor for my friend Cindy. And I'm like, I can't. Like, I had this. I'm a marketing director for backup dot com. I'm starting this affiliate of this Internet Marketing Association for marketers. I don't have time. Like, we don't have time either. This thing's launching in three months. We need help. Give us a number. So I threw a number out there. And it wasn't big enough. They said yes right away. But I walked out of there with Olympus digital cameras as my first consulting client. And that's when I started my my agency felt beyond clicks. And so I basically did growth marketing for them for their first versions of their digital cameras for consumers and professional CEOs. It was paid Cirque's like before Google, like go to dot com. Know those placements on Yahoo! Technology and finding really specific content that's relevant to photography, but also creating interest in other categories and then doing like some beyond the banner stuff.
[00:10:26] Remember, the real player I do wasn't that Houben wasn't didn't Kuban sell real player to Yahoo! Or who. Who's who did. Real Player.
[00:10:35] Oh man. I had to scratch off some cobwebs, remember, but it was like the media player back in the day. Yeah, of course it was. And so I did a I did a contest with them where we would show images of of celebrities and each celebrity would have like some silly caption at the on the 10th or 11th one. It shows celebrity without a caption. You could enter a caption for a chance to win a camera. So we did that and they got like a hundred thousand entries in, like one weekend. So I was doing really early stuff with Legian, with video, with rich media. It was a great clients. And then this was in 2000, 2001, right before the bubble burst. And when there are a lot of agencies are trying to figure out how do we do? Digital is not a direct marketing houses, you know, postal mail, traditional DRDO, TV, and they would outsource paid search and online marketing to meet. One of those was the agency called Site Lab, which is sadly no longer. But basically, Juhll, I joined forces with Sight Lab, and that's right, I really got a lot of my SVO experience sort of speaking out search exit strategies and stuff.
[00:11:42] So you've been around the block, man. There is a man. I mean, so I think it's actually kind of funny. I think when you and I were doing a lot of this stuff, they used to call it sales and they used to call it marketing, but now they have V.P. of sales. I feel like you may have seen this. They now call V.P. his sales V.P. of growth or the regular marketing people. They call him growth marketers. And I'm kind of like you guys realize that, you know, well, we were doing telemarketing because I actually did telemarketing as well at SkyTel Corporation back in the early 90s. All right. Yeah, it's a horse. This is a horrible job, but it's it makes your thins thick. You know, auto dialers and all that stuff. But, you know, I think about this, the path that you've taken. I mean, you were doing some of this stuff probably even before the AOL running man, c.D, came out. But our job, our job as sales and marketing people, the growth part. I felt like it's just like obvious. What are they? What are they playing the Senate game with growth?
[00:12:58] I think they want to instill in people with that title that you better show deltas in growth. Right. It's like. That's a good way to look at it. Yeah. I think, like the title CMO is really going away. It's. It is. Yeah.
[00:13:10] Yeah. I was reading in Ad Age probably a month ago. Maybe longer. I consume a lot of content, but I believe like McDonald's or Coke or there is a very large company that does that they do. They no longer have a CMO. They just don't have one because they have these vertical eyes teams. Like Martek is its own thing and traditional Simos wouldn't know anything about Martek. I mean, these are brand people, right? These are mostly agency people, storytellers. They make TV commercials. They have production teams in Hollywood and at Saatchi and all this stuff. But guys like you and I, I mean, this this evolution of PPC banner ads, you mentioned Remnant. I remember we used to do deals on something called an insertion order.
[00:14:08] Yeah, of course. They had to be signed. What ink? Yeah.
[00:14:14] So this is this is super interesting and I think relevant to. There's a there's a section, a cross section of marketing folks like you and me who have been through the sales and through the marketing have crossed that chasm. In your experience. What do you think? I mean, we talked about growth. That's kind of in vogue now. You've seen the whole full lifecycle. If you had to think about what's around the corner, like if someone was to come to you tomorrow and say Olympus.
[00:14:45] Olympus were to come to you tomorrow and they would say, hey, we were going to build a growth program or or whatever.
[00:14:51] You have some key kind of components or a makeup of a team that because you yourself is like, hey, you know, see, memos are a little dated. I think the definition of that word has changed so much. But let's say you're the CMO or you're the head of digital. Like, what is it now that you look for in capabilities and teams?
[00:15:13] That's a great question. Capabilities and teams. I mean, nothing. I know the first thing I always look at, no matter who I'm talking to, is a LinkedIn profile and how active early on there. And are they looking yet because anybody can present themselves as a social media expert. There are some people that are now tick tock experts. And so it's brand new. But you're still still like these media. This sounds really Southern California and scientists like a lot. I go by my vibe and I ask the right questions like how do you measure success? Tell me some stories of the biggest marketing challenges you ever had to face and how you overcame them or didn't. And what did you learn? Like, how do you how do you plan your day? How do you carve out your day?
[00:15:55] How much time you spent on strategy versus tactical stuff? And how often do you look at the data? And then what tools do you use to look at that data?
[00:16:03] You know, in and you know, it's interesting data is so important. It used to be that you had to actually get someone who was a quantum. Or someone who was really good at analytics or Eskew well, or, you know, my sequel or Google Analytics now, I guess for four guys like you and I would I would be looking for for someone that came into the team, like they would have to know how to do some of that stuff themselves now.
[00:16:35] Right. I'd like to see. I want to see people that have experiences like Tableau. Yeah. And can I get you know, I'm going back to data, way back to the backup dot com days. I didn't finish my whole entire story, but we would comb through server logs. Right. This is before urchin. This is like before this is like when Web trends or Web trends and Web sites story was like, just come. Hitbox is just coming out. Now hitbox. Yeah. But yeah. But now like, you know, I've seen Tablo and tools like that. Our task is so incredible because they take real data and they can help you forecasts in advance. And then so you could see something that's gonna go wrong and have a chance to course correct it before it's too late. Rass otherwise it might have taken you days or maybe a week or more or worse, depending on the budget. Every minute counts. Yeah.
[00:17:26] Where do you see. I see this a lot. And I've actually seen a little bit, a little bit more messaging on LinkedIn and other places about more of the integration of sales and marketing. I feel like for many years, like I started my career on the sales side and the sales people and the marketing people just generally didn't like each other. I don't know why. I guess so. Well, you know, but is there is there a place where we feel like these two roles will converge just given the just given the digitization of everything?
[00:18:06] Yeah, I mean it. So there's a I mean, that's a whole podcast or three individually on their own. But it's like salespeople are measured for for sales and revenue and the marketing people are measured for. Mark QoL is right. Yeah. How do you tie those two things together? And sales is never going to have enough ampules. And they're maybe most people never have enough. And so it really boils down to having to say, well, we'll set expectations with their sales or marketing counterparts. We're on the same page and being smart enough to say, hey, if you're if you're sales school for Tudeh for twenty, twenty is five million. And based on the last year, we had we needed X amount of leads to get each million that we know how many leads we need to get. And making sure that you like to systematically go on that all day, every day to make sure you're getting the right leads. But also I've seen I mean, I'm sure you've used Cap Tarar and soccer advice. Yeah, I'm and some of these really expensive lead sources, like I would get leads, incredibly qualified leads.
[00:19:05] I won't say which company but really qualified leads and that I would spot check what happened to those leads once they came in the funnel and went to Salesforce and reps would call them one time and not call them again. And I would not quite lose my mind or lose my cool. But that's that's the big disconnect. And that's where marketing has to hold sales accountable for fault for follow ups. You know, I think, you know, sales things are the best sales marketing with best mark me, but it's all about having the same messaging. So the messaging, you have to attract people to come in to your site to learn more due to trial or download the PDAF or whatever that same messaging and value proposition resonate when that rep's calling them on the phone. And and and also, I think selling in a great way is debt. You know, that's one of the reasons why I like the construction industry, is people are just very honest and very sincere and straight up. If you could show people a way to help them. Or I'm going to show you a way to help you save time or help you save money. That's different. They like you need to buy this right now is the best thing ever. Yeah, I like yeah. I like what you said about that because it seems to me and maybe it's obvious, but selling if you're a sales person a long time ago. You know, our job was to get up to speed, become experts in that space and then be able to deliver just copious amounts of information that the buyer never really had before because they didn't put this stuff on the Internet. They didn't distribute, you know, you know, ebooks and white papers and like all this all of this stuff. So they were literally counting on the salesperson to educate them and bring them up to speed. Now they have access. You mentioned G2 crowd. You'd mentioned Cap Tarah. They can go on there and compare your products with anybody else's products. They have more information than you can shake a stick at. So that's an interesting comment about sales being dead. I know you're you're you're using that a little bit facetiously, but if sales for that, for the most part has changed, has been this evolutionary change with sales. What do you think sales real role is, is if buyers are so well informed, they have all the information they need? You have all this marketing support with digitization. So in your in your perfect world, like what what would you view as the sales person's role nowadays?
[00:21:33] Well, let me take it back. Step up. Sales isn't dead. It's just how sales is done or the are correct. The art of selling as teens. So I think that what's a good salesperson? It boils down to building trusts and building a relationship and helping that customer through there, through the journey of education, finding the right solution for them. And a really good salesperson would say, you know what? Chris, based on everything I've learned, you know, we might not be the best solution for you at this time. That's right. You might really want to look at these two until you grow to this level or in Seoul, something changing. You have this need. I don't want to waste time and that if you do that, that person will respect you forever and come to you when you need them versus like solving something down their throat. You've got to be like the trust. I just really like being a trusted advisor.
[00:22:20] Yeah, yeah. I love actually there's a book on that. I love that book. I think I bought that book like 15, 20 years ago. It's important. You need to be able to call someone that is knowledgeable about your space and will say no if it's not a good fit because you're just going to create a nightmare. You're going to create a customer service nightmare and a credibility nightmare for yourself in the long run, because these people were exactly the best of the best marketing, still word of mouth.
[00:22:45] But I think the big, big difference, the big changes we've seen in the last few years or maybe more, is the role of marketing automation and delivering content at the right time. There's still a lot of marketers that don't know how to write a good e-mail or the right sequence quite yet. But you can see there's better automation going on in the targeting capabilities with LinkedIn and Facebook and other tools are just saying it's incredible.
[00:23:10] Yeah. You know, you had mention your your dad was a creative director and you wanted to. Was he in advertising as well?
[00:23:18] No, he was in textiles. So he did like Naugahyde and sheets and linens and finals and all types of stuff. OK. I put my mom when we were teenagers, had a store called The Elegant Cuddler. And so she was like fine arts, fine arts and decorator and home like home decorator. So as a teenager, I was a member working in her stores and putting together for inspiration and stuff around.
[00:23:47] And I love selling stuff and helping people there.
[00:23:49] My mom was looking for what? She'd broken the glass in them a long time ago. And she's not quite a hustler. But she was like she was like the ambassador at helping you find what you wanted for your homes and make it the ideal place for you. It's kind of like the same thing with software or your website or whatever else you're trying to do. It's like being that being that trusted advisor.
[00:24:09] Yeah. Then the reason why I ask that question is because, you know, you'd mentioned that, you know, you were really into creative in advertising and in it looks like you went to the advertising arts college, which just lends me to believe that you would have taken this creative track. But it feels like, you know, maybe you took more of a business, entrepreneurial marketing and selling overall track. Did you did you ever wonder, like, OK, or are you still bringing that stuff together or how does that work with the creative part of this?
[00:24:47] Yeah, no, it's a great question. So I was I was going to school for for design and for art, but I was working simultaneously as a sales manager. Right. Doing telemarketing. And I realized it's going to take quite some time to become a creative director and make the amount of money that I thought. Yeah. Worthy of at that time where there's a faster path to sales and stuff. So every role I've had, it's been like heavy sales. This the partnership stuff, but also setting up the process on the first guy and usually so setting up the AdWords. Campaign says setting up the groundwork for SVO, setting up the funnels and the measurement and everything else. But I do have an eye for design and I think you know your brand and how that's positioned and why you act and all those things are really important in any business.
[00:25:33] Yeah, it looks like it looks like you spent a few years in construction software. Right. Enterprise sales in another, you know, playing grid and also at Rakan. Can you tell us and you'd mentioned a little bit earlier that you really appreciate some of the straightforward talk from some of those customers. Can you tell us, you know, you've done other things outside of construction, but what's unique about that space that you really appreciated or didn't appreciate, what did you learn from that space that you've transitioned into other verticals?
[00:26:09] Sure. That's a great question. So I never I didn't wake up one day and say I want to be involved in construction. You know, I loved it as a kid. I loved, you know, construction trucks and Tom Construction on the stuff that I never was really into construction. But I was I had just spent like two years doing at injection, which I think you're familiar with. And so I worked I I was one of the first sales marketing guys at this company called Injects that became Makow Labs. And we created browser extensions that were monetized by ad injection, which means is we had an app called Friends Checker. You can solve Friends' Checker it, say you go to Facebook and say, Oh, Lee unfriended you today or Sara changed your profile from married to single in exchange for that very valuable service that was getting tens of thousands of new users a day and scaling fast. You agreed. If you read the terms to accept ads and so we would serve ads in the whitespace of Facebook or any site or model pages or anonymizer or anywhere. Right. We were printing money, but there was no real value prop there. So that French soccer app got shut down and we created like 30 different titles.
[00:27:21] But there was no, like, really huge value there. And we would get like some horrible emails from customers, success about things I cannot see on this podcast. So it's kind of like to telemarketing the Internet in a way. Like the dark side. Definitely the gray side. Almost dark side. And I want to be a white hat marketer and I really just want to do things that add value. So there's next door in this very small office building. This is where is these four guys? And they were building this thing called Rakan. And three of those guys are people I've worked with previously at Mozer pages of Mogel, and I really like them. And so since we're in the same building, we would talk. We would get coffee and I'd give them advice. And what they had built was basically a smart PDA for construction people to do daily reports. And they were having some great success with it with minimal marketing. And so my advice was, all right, well, let's get a marketing plan. Let's invest in like the most leads. You can get the fastest, lowest paid search. So Sue Appstore adds those two apps or optimization looks great, a customer success Bible and really hold their hand as they come on. Let's call everybody as they as they try it. And those things started to work and it went from from free advice and helping out to paid consulting engagements. I was actually doing the paid search and I actually started talking to customers, too. And they're like, yeah, man, to save me, save me two hours this week. Like, that's a big deal. And so I kind of it was just the complete opposite of what I was experiencing on the adverse side. Had little to no value. These customers really enjoying it. They're finding it. They're championing it. They're introducing it to other people in the company, like, man, you guys are really on to something. So the construction people, they're just they're they're just like, no nonsense. Nothing against lawyers or accountants, serves CEOs or anybody else, but they're just no nonsense. They're really proud of the companies they work for. They've been there for a long time. Most of it spent their whole career at one company that takes care of them. They're proud of their projects. They look over and say, yeah, we've got the Sandigo courthouse, you know, where we built Terminal three at the airport. And they're just good, honest people. And they have problems that need to be solved. Yeah, technology.
[00:29:35] And so they've been historically, they've been the slowest industry to adopt technology. But that's changing as the workforce changes and the salty, crusty superintendents are like six years old. That started off on the job sites. They're going to hammer out retiring and younger people are coming in with degrees in construction management. But I've never done any actual building. But they've grown up with technology. You know, it's like the convergence of all those factors happening where construction tech is really hot.
[00:30:03] Yeah. And you sell you sell these these packages or this software that allows them to better manage these very large commercial building projects, schematics, plans, things of this nature.
[00:30:19] Yeah, it's like digitization, digitalization. So Rakan is focused on construction. Daily reports Plan Grid, an amazing products, amazing tool that was sold for eight hundred ninety five million dollars. Autodesk last year. Bow Wow. No, not not so long. They basically take blueprints and put them on your phone or your iPod. So you want to carry around a rolled blueprints. Everybody's on the same blueprint all the time, which is amazing because that saves a ton of time to make sure people are building the right thing at the right time.
[00:30:51] There's a slew of other.
[00:30:54] Value props, that positive things that it does for the industry.
[00:30:57] Let's talk about the Kinect springboard program. I know you did that for a long time. You know, maybe your way of giving back a little bit. Can you tell us about that program and what you did there?
[00:31:10] Yeah. So I'm a big believer in helping out the community. I didn't talk about it, but during the course of my career, I helped grow the Internet Marketing Association from a handful of people to a couple of thousand. And that was all about sharing marketing case studies and helping other marketers be successful, whether they in-house or agency folks.
[00:31:30] So I've always like that sense of community and connects is Santiago's oldest community for helping startups. And so entrepreneurs will come to connect and apply for the Springboard program. And the Springboard program brings together different mentors. So to be a mentor who's a CFO will come in and help them build out their financial model. They'll be a mentor that comes in and helps them with their technology stock or mentor that comes in and helps them with the fundraising. And then I'm like a sales and marketing mentor advisor. So sometimes I'll get assigned to a startup and help them through that process. Other times, ideas come in and see if they if they're pitch the final pitch. It allows them to graduate and start getting investment to interest. All right. Introduced to investors. Yeah. So I've been doing that for a while and it feels good and and. Yeah, and karmically at all. It all comes around because while I was working with Reagan and Plan Great, I was also doing the Canek thing and I met an entrepreneur, really smart guy, an architect, Patrick Kyohei, and he was working on the World Trade Center building in New York. Tower three, I believe, and his job was to do what's called a quote unquote, photo survey. So architects go to their job site. They take pictures of everything that's wrong, everything that needs to be updated or addressed, dressed. And it's called a photo survey. And they go back to the desk, they upload all those photos from their phone or their camera to a server, and they download them on a PowerPoint or attach them to a blueprint and they send it to the owner or the general contractor or subcontractor to facilitate getting things done. So to this day, most people are still doing that same workflow the same way. So long story short, I connected with Patrick this past summer and found out what he was doing. He he originally went to connect to present photo survey. I helped him graduate with photo survey and we basically partnered and photos services become Pixley. And so Pixley is now basically the best steps, Google Photos, the best of Slack, the best of Instagram for a photo and video. This little documentation for destruction.
[00:33:42] That's amazing. So connect, though, to be clear, is this is Connect an incubator or is it a network or what? It what how would you describe Connect?
[00:33:52] Yeah, it's not an incubator because they don't they don't put money in.
[00:33:56] It's, it's, it's, it's, it's really more of a network so to speak, but it's also changing and evolving. So last year they merged with San Diego venture group CAB, the all about venture capital and v.C introductions. And so the SD Viji and and connects collaboration. How it's coming together is still being defined. But ultimately it's like get people to the program, make sure they're confident to meet, meet investors and then make those investments boxes.
[00:34:25] Yep. So if you have an idea and you live in San Diego, you take this idea, you go to the meetings, you learn how to properly communicate and position this idea because there's a lot of different pieces to it. I mean, you don't just wake up one day and become Lee Mills, right? This is a lot of trial and error you had to go through from ever end point, the finance, the spreadsheets, the marketing plan, the business plan. And a lot of a lot of younger entrepreneurs or even people who are in their mid careers. If they've just worked at a big company their whole life, they may not have been exposed to all this stuff. Right. So it sounds like they give you the opportunity to get some mentorship and be introduced to programs, right?
[00:35:11] Exactly. Yeah, I've I've been an early stage startup guy for pretty much my whole career or a growth virtual CMO or Juhll growth guy. But I've always wanted to do my own thing. It's just been a wrong time or the wrong place or something was going on in my life. And so when I reconnected with Patrick and I showed what was photo surveillance and my former customers and they wanted it like right then and there, I knew we still have something. You still solve a problem, like make an impact on that industry.
[00:35:44] So you met. So through your kind of give back mentality, you met Patrick, which is the co-founder of Pixley. He's he a tech tech on. Sure, or a bit like what side of the house is he on?
[00:35:57] He's he's a software engineer. So these are trained architect, is incredibly bright and has a great education. But now he loves code. So he's now a product and Hands-On coding guy. Yeah.
[00:36:09] And a lot of these a lot of venture capitalists and seed and angels, they really won't.
[00:36:16] Not that they won't, but they really like to have a co-founder that is, you know, two two sides to the brain. Right. You've got the tech side, which is extremely difficult. But if you just have tech and those guys are trying to figure out sales and marketing, it's just not a good use of their time. No, Patrick, I guess when you guys got reunited, he brought you in as the the sales and marketing side of the brain trust there. Yeah. And so is this company funded or are you guys bootstrapped or how does Pixley work right now from.
[00:36:52] Mostly it's mostly been bootstraps. We have a we're closing our angel round right now, which is 250 K. We've got about 65 percent of that substract already. Also closing out at the end of August and then we'll do our seed rounds towards the end of 2020. But I'm a lean startup guy, so it's convertible notes and I want to give out any equity. Yes. And we don't really notice, you know, the whole valuation conversations can be tricky, but we plan on having the products in the app stores in October. And we have customers that are already to go signed letters of intent.
[00:37:28] So this is app one hundred percent mobile app, not web app. It's a mobile first. Yep. Got it. Excellent. Well, you know, I just had an appraisal done on my house because we're going through a refinance. And I was kind of shocked by, you know, the person walking around, taking pictures, taking measurements, but literally writing stuff down with a pen in a in a piece of paper. And then when I got the appraisal, by the way, this is residential. So I would have thought that residential would have been a lot further ahead than commercial. But then when I got the appraisal back, I mean, it kind of looked like.
[00:38:07] Dog crap, like I was like, this is this is what you guys have you been selling houses for hundreds of years.
[00:38:15] And they just take the notes and put it in a word, doc or something.
[00:38:18] Yeah, I was in a PDAF and it was just not it it just did not look like it really looked like the process you described before, where you can imagine someone taking pictures of rooms and then them going back to their computer and plug it in their digital SLR camera, downloading them, literally pasting them into a word doc and then PDAF in it and sending it to someone else. Kind of like. Really?
[00:38:47] Yeah. I mean, there's so there's opportunity right there, right?
[00:38:51] Yeah. So commercials probably, you know, a higher ticket item, but you know. So do you see yourself adding the Pixley product on to, you know, companies like playing Grid Rakan? I'm assuming these are add ons.
[00:39:07] So, yeah, I mean, the first thing we want to do is build a solution that's that saves these hardworking professionals a couple hours a week, which in turn saves tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on the bottom line and reduces frictions and other things. It's too much communications, but yet we've got really strong IP. We have issued patents with how we do tags and annotations. So any I don't see anybody as competitors. I see everybody's future potential partners.
[00:39:37] Yeah, that's great. That's kind of where the world's headed. I mean, if you, you know, draw a circle around yourself and think that you can build everything and do everything on your own, it's probably a good way to not go very far. Very fast.
[00:39:50] Yeah, that's a great analogy. I might have to use that.
[00:39:53] I just made it up just exactly right now. So as we as we bring this show to a close, you know, this is great. You've got a ton of experience. You been doing this a very long time.
[00:40:05] Oh, you and I wanted to ask you before I asked this last question, you spent some time in the Navy. What do you think that experience gave you in your you know, your your mannerisms, your behaviors, your sense of discipline or, you know, what is it that the Navy gave you that you still used today?
[00:40:27] Well, that's a great question. The Navy gave me a lot of self discipline that enabled me to work with basically any group of people in any environment. Like, I don't see I don't see skin color. I mean, you're in the Navy. Everybody's a shipmate, you know, and you do whatever you can to keep the ship going in the opposite me. So working under stress, working under timelines, being able to act quickly on your toes, like in your Navy, any minute there's a drill for something that's going on. Nothing ever goes smoothly. You have to be prepared for the worst all the time. And that's kind of the same thing with startups. Everything might be going great and there's some code breaks or the site's down or customers having it. Bad things. So self-discipline, working with teams, getting stuff done, documentation. Funny enough. Oh yeah. A lot of time as a as a call it damage control. Petty Officer. So the Navy doesn't wait for something to break. Everything has a repair schedule. Every nut and bolt on every Sheppey gets replaced by by the day, the week, the month of the year. So managing those things and planning actually has a great crossover media plan. Yeah.
[00:41:34] Yeah. Attention to detail is is big in our business. And I see this way too much in our business. Folks that don't have the ability to make their own checklists or create their own plan. And I say this a lot. I'm like, I'm not asking for a D. thesis.
[00:41:53] I'm just asking you, like with if you're going to plan a trip and you're going to go from L.A. to New York or San Diego to London or like you wouldn't you wouldn't just wake up one morning and grab your wallet and go to the airport. I don't think most people I don't think most people would do that. And so just with a little bit of planning and then I don't know, is the weather going to you're going to bring your trunks. Are you going to bring your swimsuit? Like, I don't know. You know, this ability to capture, you know, some Synthes synthesized list of items that need to be taking care of that. I feel confident, you know, as your boss or as a customer or whatever that you're going to. You have a path. You have a roadmap. The Navy or the military, the the armed forces in general. Then you got to have your shit together. You write this stuff down. Right.
[00:42:45] There's consequences if you don't just write training manuals on training manuals and manuals to replace screws and bolts. I mentioned.
[00:42:54] And that's why I think having like a customer success playbook and a sales playbook that sales and marketing collaborate on. So it's like the same message, the same value profit and this same. Type of conversations you have and how to have those conversations and how to qualify and how to close are all really important.
[00:43:13] Yeah, I agree 100 percent. Well, now now I'll ask you the last question and I ask all the guests this question. If you had to give any piece of advice or any multiple pieces of advice, you know, the audience is founders, entrepreneurs, sea level executives that, you know, probably from 10 million dollar companies all the way to a billion dollar companies. You know, these guys are running digital campaigns, B2B software, SAS. There's a lot of different, you know, people in our, you know, on our list. But what kind of advice would you would you give these would you give these founders, entrepreneurs and executives?
[00:43:50] And that's that's a great question. Can it be multiple pieces of it?
[00:43:54] Yeah, it can be. Hey, go out to Enza Brager more and drive traffic. Drive yourself off a cliff. They'd be OK.
[00:44:02] It definitely helps unplug once in a while. Someone like some of my best ideas come from when I'm away from my computer going for higer for a walk or something. But utilizing Swallow's, like we talked about earlier, like Tablo, where you can, you know, you have real data. It's really visualize in real time. And you can see where forecasted installs or apps or whatever is going wrong and act on it more quickly. So just being better with visual data, having like you can afford it, have a B.I person that that's all they do all day, every day is manage that data. That's when the best investments you can make.
[00:44:34] I agree. I actually we have a we have an assigned analytics team and we have had for minimum 10 years now. And it is the stress that I used to get when all this data used to roll in and just trying to figure out how to manage it and not make a mistake by not only being able to get the data in the right spot, but to put it in the right visualization, to get the insight, because that's what you really want is the insight. Right? There's people that are good at that. They used to be a lot more expensive than they are today. But that's great advice if you don't have someone crunching data. Man, you are out of your severe disadvantage.
[00:45:12] My other thing, if I would say it's like I'm a big believer in testing, so you might be stoked. You have a 20 percent conversion rate on. You remember sign ups, but there's no reason it couldn't be 21 percent. So I always have like a testing plan for four landing pages, for leads and whatever you're for, whatever you're doing. Another really good investment is in S.R.O. conversion rate optimization. You always do better. And if you're in the same business all day everyday, like I get advice on people all the time too. You might be looking for the peanut butter jar. You open the refrigerator. It's right in front of your face, but you can't see it. The same thing had happened with S.R.O.. So it's always good to see you.
[00:45:50] Like, I'm super humble and I'll take it ideas and advice. Anybody. Some of them would well worth it.
[00:45:56] Yeah, it's about moving the needle and, you know, the inner thigh, whatever helps the business. Yeah. And you know, the interesting thing, since you mentioned testing, testing is not something you just wake up in the morning and you say, oh, we're going to do testing today. Like, that's not the way proper valid in statistical testing programs work.
[00:46:19] There's actually a lot more to it than that. And by, you know, like Lee suggested, by getting yourself into test and learn mode when you're doing well, it will eliminate a lot of stress when your shit hits the fan, because I promise you, it'll hit the fan.
[00:46:34] And then when it does, you will have spent three months kind of tiptoeing through the tulips on a testing framework in a methodology and team members that, you know, have capabilities and you're generating ideas and I hypotheses. And then when shit breaks, then you can jump on it. Right. You've got the playbook for testing.
[00:46:55] But if you I mean, 20 percent, depending on the business you're in, would be frickin amazing. I think anyone would take that. But I mean.
[00:47:04] If it's if it's not broke, don't fix it. This is not this is not the right mentality to have in such a competitive global economy.
[00:47:12] So that's great advice, Leigh. Well, look, it's been great to have you on today.
[00:47:19] I know you might have some suggestions on a entrepreneur and founder, four wheel drive club that I might have to hit you on later after the show you're in. You're already going. But I really appreciate your time today. And we'll have to get together very soon. We're not that far down the road. So sounds great. Thanks for having me. It's been a real pleasure.
[00:47:40] Excellent. Thank you. You're welcome.