Dropping out of College and Starting a Huge Business with Casey Gauss of Viral Launch Ep4
Are you ready to scale and outsource your business okay, let's go. Welcome. To the outsourcing and, scaling show I'm, your host Nathan, Hurst a show, where we talk about everything, Amazon shopify, ecommerce and, digital, marketing, let's. Get started. Everyone. Back with outsourcing and scaling with Nathan Hersh have a special, guest today Casey, Goss from viral. Launch PC how you doing doing, so well and they then thanks so much for having me man yeah, thanks for being here so for those you that don't know Casey, is the founder, and CEO of viral, launched an Indianapolis, based tech company offering, innovative software, and creative services to Amazon, sellers Casey, founded this when he was 21 and correct, me if I'm wrong you were a college, dropout a high school dropout college, dropout yeah, college. Dropout so, take, us back before viral. Launch what were you doing, what. Was your, mindset in college and you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur, yeah. So it's, really funny there was this one little spark so originally, I thought I wanted to go. Home be, like, work. Up the corporate ladder essentially, because I really like working hard and I thought that sounded like fun probably, in marketing cause I like being creative and this, one entrepreneur he came spoke in a class and like everything, was different but immediately. After I started having all these ideas I wanted to start all this stuff so. I actually, taught myself how to code so that I could make some of these cool ideas and, a. Couple years later so I knew how to code and I, was building iOS apps around a new technology, felt, like I wasn't really learning a ton from my professors, I was I was, like reading so much everything, that they were saying was contradicting, what like the fortune 500 CEOs are saying and so, I ended. Up dropping out I was building, iOS apps around a new technology, I didn't really have any money coming in but. I had, an idea and so chased, after that idea it wasn't really working out exactly and I. Always, knew that I could get a coding job if I needed, to and so, anyways a friend of mine was selling on Amazon came to me with the idea of fire launch he wanted me to build it and yeah. The rest is history I guess. So. You mentioned, that friend, how, did how, did he do so work with, is he part of our lunch yes so we started we, started the company together we need to run track together in college so that's how we knew each other and no. I brought him out officially after a year, and then about six months ago he actually joined the team again as a, member on our R&D team he wasn't he wasn't up to much, and so, he's. A real cool of like smart, guy so trying. To get him back on the team I love, it so you're 21 you're running, this company to talk about that that first few years what was it like, so. The first year, was. Almost. Like happenstance, like we, threw it up there we were hoping to maybe make $10,000. In a month just. Just like some side money is kind of how I looked at it and. Like. We. Were profitable from the start which was awesome but it was it was it was cool. But kind of difficult at the beginning because I was doing everything like I was coding I was running customer service I was like coaching people. There's. A lot of stuff, going on which. Was cool because you had your hands and everything and I learned, so many different like skills, and, in trait traits, through that but.
It. Was it was what was cool about it was you know we set out with no big ambitions, and we, had no idea what it was going to become and I. Think seven, eight months in were making twenty five thousand, dollars a month you, know ten, twelve months in we were making sixty 75 km unthe we weren't really doing anything, but delivering a great service, and really, listening to customer feedback and adopting, or adapting. Our, tools to that feedback so it was pretty crazy to see that that kind of growth and it. Was it, was super cool yeah. It. Sounds, fun so you're growing this business you become profitable, I'm assuming you made some hires in that first year what, were the first key hires that you made yeah, about seven. Eight, months and I hired someone to help me with customer service so just a little context, we we had two kind of customers, essentially, one of those customers were people that like buying you know things at a discount so we have like 3040 thousand of those and so I was at one point doing customer service for those as well as the Amazon sellers so anyways, hired a customer, service rep to do that and then my second hire was I, I heard someone to start writing Amazon, listings, and, we had kind of learned how to do that together and then my my third hire was someone to help more operationally. Essentially, so, what do you look for when you're hiring people you've obviously hired, a lot of people now and I know you have an HR department but, you, have a certain type of person, that you're looking for yeah, I mean the. Number, one thing that at least I am looking for is well. There's two main things that I'm looking for number one is is, obviously like. You usually. I would classify it as accomplishments. So you, know that's cool if you're a great at writing let's say but what I want to understand, is how your writing actually translate. Translated. Into like real results, essentially and so being able to show those results is is super powerful number. Two is is, just like passion, so, one. Of our first hires was a developer, and he. He, was like he had a blog on coding, and like. You can see that it's the things that people do outside. Of their nine-to-five, outside, of of their college like, whatever it is that, shows, like their passion, in the, subject and when you see that then you know these people are really.
Experts. And or they're gonna do whatever it takes to become an expert yeah. That, makes a lot of sense so have, you had a bad hires along the way any failure. That sticks out that would be a good story to share yeah, so, we've, obviously had. So, yeah for those of you don't know we're about 70 employees now and so through, that we have, definitely made some bad hires I will say that if you if I look back the number, one trait is is. Lack, of self-awareness like, self-awareness, is so important. Because if people aren't self-aware, they don't know that they're not fitting in or, they don't know that they're not hitting the expectations. That's, that's super dangerous right, wrong, so, so I would say lack of awareness number, two is like pay, attention to everything you know we once hired this this girl who she. Came in she was she was kind of sassy in the interview and she was talking about how she was kind of sassy to her boss or whatever and. We. Ended up making a hire anyways, and then, yeah sure enough you know the this, had like come up multiple, times and, so, it, that. Was early days and that was just a huge learning, experience like, okay, yeah you know we saw this in the interview we could have avoided this we need to pay attention to that those kinds of things right. So I'm. Assuming managing. And leading and, motivating five. To ten people is way different than doing it across, 7075. People how, do you even begin to manage, that many people. And. This is something I'm still learning obviously, so the biggest answer is that I've hired some leadership, around me that has the experience doing this, and. Like, you know I'm someone that recognizes, I don't have experience I really appreciate experience, and so you, know I we. I have a whole executive team now people, like our, CEO and president his last company he was CEO, of 1300. Employees right, so what trying, to bring on people because, I would not be able to do this without them it's number one number. Two the biggest thing is is, honestly communication. Because, you, know everyone, assumes it. Doesn't matter how how much goodwill you build with someone everyone, assumes. The wrong things at some point and. Great. Communication is going to help everyone understand, you know why you're making the decisions that you are and, really kind of get rid of those assumptions, and. Then, number three is just having some good like, structure, so that people know what they're owning if. People, don't have something, that they own then, it's, really uncomfortable for people and you. Know which isn't exactly my personality, but. Having. That ownership is so important they know what they're being judged by they know what's a chase after and they're gonna be they're, gonna be so, much more effective because people want to do a good job it's just important for them to know what doing, a good jumper they looks like I love, it I think the listeners that they want to hear that a lot of people listening David maybe they're made bad hires or they're struggling to motivate, and get on the same page with, those people how. Do you spend your time now you mentioned before you are coding you were doing customer service you were wearing. All these different hats what does your day-to-day life look, like now where are you spending your time yeah, in, a couple of areas so, we. We still don't have a strong marketing, leader so I do spend a decent amount of time on the marketing side hopefully, that will change very soon getting is not my strength, you. Know I also, spend a good amount of time just talking with different people on the team in trying to understand, like. Okay. This person, is, upset about something, like let me go understand, how, we got to this point where they're upset so that we can walk backwards, and build like a better process, you know in the early startup day see you you are like oh we don't have much process, like process sucks no systems bah bah bah but, like do.
People Really appreciate, the process and the systems and is really necessary as you continue to scale because they're, gonna be so much more effective when people are effective they're a lot happier so anyways it's been a good amount of time just going and grabbing coffee with different people on the team to make, sure that you know they're happy make sure that everyone, is you. Know as productive, as possible and enjoying, what's going on and if not how, we can solve those things and, yeah. Number three is you know I'm really passionate. About the product so I've really tried to set myself up so my superpower I think is is, developing. The product and kind of the Amazon strategy, so basically, I've hired you know we have a CFO we have a CEO we, have a VP, of customer success HR. So we have, people. In all the areas that I'm not as strong in but, also not as like excited, about, and so that's allowed me to focus more on like the product side and work, with the the devs essentially, in the data science team very. Interesting, inside the the life of someone managing, seventy-five people yeah, yeah, you, said something interesting when we had dinner at forget. What conference it was all the time I had but yeah you, said something along the lines of one, of my biggest fears, is losing, touch with the Amazon, community, and that's what I always ed Rosenberg's conference, and that was a reason that that you were there you talk a little bit more about that and how you've kind of grown, and made yourself a part of the Amazon community. And what you want to achieve there yeah, yeah so so just a little context. You. Know I think that one of our strengths, has been that, we're, so in tune with what sellers, want, need, how they're thinking about things in really understanding you, know what their struggles are and then building tools to kind of marry, technology. And, like the capabilities, of Technology as well as those issues, and my fear has been and, I. I've seen this actually, a number. Of times with some of my friends that run companies essentially it's like so when you start a company you you. Likely really understand, a particular industry. And as. You, know the the team it's very easy to get wrapped up inside of the company and to only be thinking about things going on inside yeah fires to fight and you, know people are getting promotions, or someone, is struggling with this blah blah blah you get so wrapped up in the day-to-day of the company and.
You Don't really like you lose touch with the outside world and, so basically the. Way that I've tried to solve, this there, is a definitely a period where I was starting to get wrapped up in the company and also. You know have you have people externally they're like oh that's so cool you know you have 30 employees 40 employees and you you feel like things are going. Well but it's it's not necessarily, about that it's always about the customer so anyways to kind, of combat that essentially, one I go to a lot of events and even. If there are smaller events or whatever I still try to go because there's, a lot of sellers and different. Events have different types of people, in the industry so it's always great to connect there to, spend a decent amount of time on Facebook originally. Like I was like I'm getting rid of social media I need to just be focused I don't care about this stuff but. There's, a lot of Facebook groups with Amazon sellers and being able to understand what they're talking about and then number three is I we we built a team in house we call it our R&D team and. This team is just super, plugged into the Amazon community, they're constantly running tests to understand what, works what doesn't and finding new strategies, and so, basically. The combination of these three things have, have, at least I feel like helped me to really stay connected with the with the Amazon community, I love. It so let's transition Amazon, a little bit how is Amazon changed, over the years I'm sure when you got in it was the wild, wild west I mean I got in in 2008-2009. And oh wow, so how have you kind of seen it evolve and where do you think that it's going yeah, sometimes, I look back fondly. On the old, days and right miss, them very much so. The old days essentially. You. There's. So much this change you you didn't have to focus as much on. Like. The. To the quality of products, now saying that people were sourcing bad products but now like this, the the standard, bar, of operation, is so much higher so, one, you can source just about anything to, the, you didn't have to have, amazing. Photos like you do now you didn't have to like, go and have just a killer, listening, some people did and that was a huge advantage to them now it's again kind of this like standard of operation, and the marketing side like going and actually driving the sales you, could give products away in exchange for review right, what people would do is they would go for, super. Competitive super, high volume products let's, say just vitamin, C serum or whatever they, would go give up in the, the top vitamin C serum. Seller has a thousand, reviews but, what they do is they give away 1200, units and get, thousand, reviews out of it then, they give away some units to job keyword ranking and within a month they have a thousand reviews are selling 250, units a day and like. Now they're on to the next product so, and. Not. Only that but you felt like you felt like. Very secure, because Amazon, was not making many changes but, there are no changes happening, and so it's very easy to stay up to date and understand. Best practices, fast. Forward to now and. Like. It's very difficult to get reviews, for. A number of reasons and like. I was saying the standard bar of operation, you have to have a great product with a really good offer meaning, you know you if you're selling if, everyone's selling ten reusable. Straws for ten dollars you, have to be, able to match that or pretty close so you can't sell ten for thirty dollars right and then on the marketing side it's, just a lot more expensive like there's still a lot of opportunity for you to drive, q were drinking to drive sales it's just way more expensive than it used to be and.
You. Know frankly I think that we see are are seeing a lot less. New, new sellers coming into this space and I expect, this trend to continue, to, happen so. Positives. And negatives I mean Amazon overall has grown so there's a bigger opportunity in the Amazon space it's just a little, more difficult to get to let's. Say someone's listening and they do over a million dollars a year you work with a lot of big sellers, what. Advice can you give them to scale their business even more yeah. So number, one yeah, I see, people get stuck in the 1 to 5 million dollar mark number. One is build, a team so many people get to that million dollar mark or three. Million dollar mark or whatever it may be by, themselves and so they try to continue to do. It themselves and building, a team is so so important, you have to be outsourcing. Different components, or else, you just won't be able to scale so that's a huge mistake that I see people make is they're, they're not willing to hire and maybe. They tried hiring. Someone and it didn't really work out but, you know or people are like well no one can do it as well as me I get, those things but if you really want to be able to scale your your business you're going to have to learn how to hire the right people and you, know hand. Tasks. Off to them essentially, or core. Responsibilities. Number. Two is that I see a lot of people at this stage start. Focusing on, getting off, of Amazon, and in. In theory I 100%. Agree the problem is is so much more difficult to get out off of Amazon, than it is to grow in Amazon business so I've seen so many people make the mistake of like spending, 70, 80 90, percent of their time trying, to push into retail or, some, of their channels and they. See, their Amazon sales start to fall and they, make very little headway off of Amazon so if. You are gonna do that make sure that you continue to focus on Amazon it's really important and then. Number. Three is like hey, if you got to a million if you got to five million you know what you're doing just do more of that right right, I think. That's great advice so. I have some random questions, and then we'll wrap it up in, no particular order. In. The past few years is there any personal. Habit, or something outside of business that's really helped you kind of separate, business and personal and be more productive yeah. That's a great question I am, not the right person to ask on like. Work-life balance or, separating. The two I very much only, work I. Would. Say that going to the gym is has, been really important, to me eating. Well and and. You know cardio essentially, exercise have been huge. For like mental clarity and being able to have the energy to continue, to push when it's tough sometimes.
What You, there's a ton of gurus out there there's lots of people selling courses, without, naming names is, there something out there that you think is just false that a lot of people are saying you should do that that you shouldn't ooh, that's. A great question um there's, a there's a number of smaller, things so. I. Frankly. Don't, think that you should be running giveaways, right now I think that there's, some opportunities, for you to launch. Your product and do, really well with just like PPC, in. An, aggressive, price point I think giveaways, you know this is how we built our business but, I no longer think it's the best strategy for diving keyword ranking so I'd say that's number one interesting. So last. Question if. There's a college kid listening, they're unsure whether they should go out get a real job and they should take the risk they become an entrepreneur from, someone who's been in that position who's, made it at least to this point had a lot of success what, advice would you tell them yeah, that's that's great so one if you if you really have something, you. Know an idea or, some. Skills, that you want to chase after an, idea I think that there's a lot of opportunity, to do that especially if you have something going for you already you don't need that that college degree in, order to get on to the next step I think it's important to understand where you want to go and if, having a college degree is gonna help you and I think you should do that and then this is this is probably not what you're expecting but, I honestly think that there's a good amount of value to going and getting a real job and like. With a good mentor that would allow you to to. Learn a lot I feel like I've missed a lot from, those. Real jobs so I honestly, feel like there's no wrong, way to go I think the wrong way to go is to kind of be like, in. The middle and go get a job that you're not really gonna learn much from you're not gonna have a great mentor because, that's, that's just wasting your time and I think that you should go the entrepreneurial, route there's so many ways to make money now online and. I've seen, so many people go on and be millionaires, or maybe even you, know tens of millionaires, and like so the opportunities, are significant, if that's what you want to do then that's amazing, I think there is some advantage, to going and getting a real job for a little bit but you. Know you can, make both work essentially, right. Thanks, so much for coming how can people find out more about you connect with you what's viral on should have going on right now yeah. So the best way to get, ahold of me is through, Instagram. That's. That's where, the, least amount of people reach out to me so I I'm. A little bit better at getting back to everybody and. Yeah. Yeah I think that's that's pretty much it guys check, out viral on Casey thank you so much we appreciate the, time and I'm sure I'll run into you at some conferences going forward yeah, thanks so much for having me man take care. Hey. Everyone thank you so much for watching can, you enjoy this content if so, click like leave us a comment and subscribe, to our channel so we can continue bringing you great content all about, higher.