RecycledGoGetter Interviews Sam Ovens
About This Interview
Date: October 2013
Interviewer: Nick Ruiz from RecycledGoGetter.com (website no longer active)
Original Source: YouTube Video
Nick Ruiz: (00:00:01):
Hey entrepreneurs, go getters. This is Nick with recycledgogetter.com. Thanks for listening. I got a pretty bad-ass entrepreneur here today. His name is Sam ovens. He is from New Zealand. He started as an entrepreneur doing consulting with websites from scratch, got some cashflow and turned it into a piece of software called snap inspect that property managers use to inspect properties and that’s become a pretty great success. So the guys come from the ground up. Very impressive. Sam, how are you?
Sam Ovens: (00:00:42):
Good, thanks. Did I miss anything? No, that was a good intro.
Nick Ruiz: (00:00:47):
Ok back to square one real fast here. So you are Sam, you aren’t an entrepreneur yet. And then you cross that threshold and say, I want to do something for me. Like what, what planted the seed of entrepreneurship for you? What age? Like, you know what I mean? What transpired?
Sam Ovens: (00:01:06):
Sure. So I was 20 years old. I’d gone through college and I had my first job and I hated it, it was an awesome job when I first got the job, I was stoked. And then it was at Vodafone, like, which is like a telecommunications company. I just hated it after about, three, four months, hated it, slow moving, all of that stuff. And I mean, I went away to my girlfriend at the time, her best friend, her dad was like an entrepreneur. We went away to like his holiday home, which was like an Island, actually it was an Island. It wasn’t like an Island, it was like a private Island. And I mean, I was just sitting there and I was like, man, how the hell would I even be able to buy this? Or like live a lifestyle like this with my job. And then when I got back, I was interested in entrepreneurship and I started Googling it and I think that’s where it started. I actually remember Googling the definition of an entrepreneur. Oh, did you? Yeah, because they all said that, when I asked what does this guy do? They’re like, he’s an entrepreneur. I was like, what the hell does mean, so I started Googling it. Okay.
Nick Ruiz: (00:02:47):
Now did you, when you saw what entrepreneurs do, did you question yourself or like question yourself like Is Sam Ovens A Scam? Like, can I really do this or is this for like a select elite few?
Sam Ovens: (00:03:02):
Yeah, so I definitely did and I mean, that’s when I sort of found out that most entrepreneurs weren’t the kids that were considered like, the smartest kids in the class or, they didn’t start off as like, rich kids and like, cause I always used to think like, your family’s rich means you’ll be rich or you’re the smartest kid in the class means, you’ll do well. Like, the typical things you think. But then when I started looking at entrepreneurship and successful entrepreneurs, they all seemed to start off poor and not smart. And I was like, this is definitely something for me.
Nick Ruiz: (00:03:45):
Absolutely. I agree. And I think a lot of it is, you hear so many rags to riches stories because rags motivate people, period. Like you’re not comfortable. Yeah. Right. When you’re comfortable, I mean, I’ve done it even, as I became successful, you get in these comfort periods where it’s like, you’re not as hungry, but when you’re backed up, I’m a firm believer Sam, when you’re backed up against the wall, a lot of times that’s the best place you can be. You know?
Sam Ovens: (00:04:12):
I know sometimes I’ve done my best stuff when I’ve been worried or something like that about cashflow I end up having a record sales month or something, right.
Nick Ruiz: (00:04:29):
Yeah, you freak out, so you start taking all this unusual action, right, that you don’t usually take. All these results come pouring in. It makes you think like, I still do it. It’s in our nature to do this once in a while. And it’s like, if somehow someone could scare me every month on the first, pull all my stuff away until I can earn it all back. You know what I mean? Like you wish there was some type of game you could play because psychologically, I think we all go through it. Even the top of the top super producers, you go through comfortable periods, you know?
Sam Ovens: (00:04:58):
Yeah. I’ve thought about that a lot actually, because you always have these numbers in your head. You’re like, if I get to this, I’ll be happy, then you get there. And you sort of coast for a little bit because it’s comfortable and it’s what you wanted. And then you slap yourself and you’re like, this is stupid. Gotta get hungry again. So you change your goals, you get that and you coast again. And that’s why I think it’s important not to do it for like, not to set a goal like that on a particular amount of income or something like that, because the best guys in business. I mean, they’ve got like billions and they just, they never stopped because that’s not what they’re in it for. They’re just in it for other things.
Nick Ruiz: (00:05:45):
They love it. And it’s like, it’s a game to them, I think entrepreneurship is like a game, like the money. I always say the money’s just the scoreboard, but you gotta love playing the game. That to me makes a true entrepreneur, someone who just wakes up and just loves that hustle. Like you, you wake up and you love what you do, like from the bottom of your heart. Right. And you love it.
Sam Ovens: (00:06:08):
I do, a lot of hours. And yeah.
Nick Ruiz: (00:06:14):
Yeah. So, I mean, we get in these comfortable periods and I guess we can talk about this for a minute, the comfort zone thing. Cause I mean, I really think one of the biggest success hacks in the world is being surrounded by people that are more successful than you. I think it always keeps you on your toes. It always is, I mean, humans compare, we compare ourselves it’s natural. Like we compare to what he looks like and she looks like, and what he’s doing, that’s in our nature to do so. So if everyone around us is more successful than us, I feel like we’re going to be like, wait, I’m a schmuck. I could be doing all this, but I’m watching TV or I’m screwing around when these guys are out here, grinding, I think that’s just, it automatically through osmosis brings us up to their level.
Sam Ovens: (00:07:01):
Yeah. And for like a lot of entrepreneurial people, like they always want to win. So whoever you’re hanging out with, you always want to, like be the best. And if you’re hanging out with average people, you can feel good and be the best, by practically doing nothing. If your buddies are like, stoners that wake up at like midday, I mean, to be better than them, you could just, like work at McDonald’s and wake up at ten. But so the higher caliber people you hang out with, I mean, to be better than them, it just gets harder and harder. And I definitely agree with that.
Nick Ruiz: (00:07:46):
Yeah. And it’s the competitive nature. Yeah. And just the comparing.
Sam Ovens: (00:07:49):
You just always want to be, I don’t mean better, like a better person. I just mean in business life. If they’re in business too, you want your business to be better than theirs.
Nick Ruiz: (00:08:00):
That’s healthy. I think that’s a healthy thing. I mean, even if it’s your best friend, you compare with each other, Oh, what numbers did you do this month? Well, I did this blah, blah, blah. Let’s play a little game. I mean, that’s what you’re saying. And I totally agree. Some of my best friends are competing real estate investors in my town. And we are together all the time. He’s doing this deal. I’m doing that deal. It’s fun. like how much does she owe you? Oh, you only took down 35k on that one. Well, Hey, I did this over here. We break each other’s balls. I mean more or less, it’s a lot of fun, you know?
Sam Ovens: (00:08:33):
Yeah. I do that with my investment banking buddies. Yeah. Whenever I get a good deal with snap inspect or something, I will like, take a screenshot of it, send it over to them. And I’ll be like, how much did you guys make today? Or something like that. Yeah, it’s fun. But it sounds pretty cocky, but when they’re doing the same and you’re just not ramming it down their throats, like, look at me when you’re actually having a bit of a game. It’s pretty fun.
Nick Ruiz: (00:09:01):
Well, dude, you’re playing a game, but you’re playing that game in the same league. If you sent that screenshot to a bunch of losers that are semi friends of yours, they’d be like why would he send us this? I mean, you’re in the same league, so it’s all the same game, but yeah, I, I really think your surroundings are the boss on your success level. I just think it’s, it just turns into an automatic scenario where you have to step up your game or you’re going to look like an idiot and nobody psychologically wants to look like an idiot. So dude, failing, I want to just touch on this topic. Okay. Everybody fails. we kind of talked pre-interview here about a few things that didn’t go so well. Right. When you first started a few things in the past, do you want to touch on something?
Nick Ruiz: (00:09:42):
Like, just tell me how you got slapped in the face with failure and then what psychological, things did you think of and go over to move past it. Cause most people get paralyzed there. That’s why 99% of people work for someone else and aren’t entrepreneurs. Because even if they step out and try to be that entrepreneur, they get slapped around a few times and they’re like, this, this entrepreneurship stuff must be for those select few. And I’m not one of them I’m going back to my job. So how did you work through that? And what was it? You know?
Sam Ovens: (00:10:12):
Yeah. So so I wanted to start a business, I was about 20 and naturally just the first idea that came to mind, I was like I’ll do it. And it was like a job posting website. I won’t go into the details of it. But it was basically like a job board, like a kind of like a LinkedIn sort of thing. And it didn’t really have a business model, it had no focus, it didn’t solve a problem. It was missing major things and, I spent like 10 grand and probably a whole year building it and never showing it to anyone. Like I would even closing the windows of my house when I talked about it. Cause I was, like any typical starting entrepreneur, so freaked out that someone was gonna steal my idea. And finally I finished it and started talking to people and they were just like, I don’t need this. This is cool, but I don’t need this. And that’s when I realized like damn.
Nick Ruiz: (00:11:29):
Ouch, 10 grand in a year. Ouch.
Sam Ovens: (00:11:31):
Right. Well, it was more the year to be honest, like 10 grand was a lot, but it was, you can make 10 grand back, doing anything. It’s not massive money, you could just get a job on minimum wage. You could make 10 grand back. But the year man, that’s what really got me, how, when I thought about how much time and how many like fun things with my buddies that I sacrificed and like nights working at my computer and how much better I could have been at work and all sorts of things. And that’s what really killed me. It was the time and the opportunity cost of what I could have done with all that time. (Sam Ovens Net Worth is now estimated above $60 Million dollars)
Nick Ruiz: (00:12:17):
Yeah, totally. Yeah. You can’t get that back and it’s kind of sickening. I mean, you move through it, but so how did you bounce out of that dude? I mean, everyone rejected your idea across the board. How do you get through that mentally?
Sam Ovens: (00:12:34):
Well, I mean, as far as I saw it, I could have another go. I mean, I was like 21. I was 21 at that stage still pretty young. I mean, I hadn’t quit my job and stability there, so I still had my job. So I figured, well, what did I learn from this? And I learned, one, to actually charge money because it’s pretty hard to make money when you don’t sell anything.
Nick Ruiz: (00:13:21):
You were basing it off the ad model. Is that what you were doing?
Sam Ovens: (00:13:25):
Well, I was doing one of those things like, Oh, we’ll just get people using it and we’ll figure out how to make money later, which is a bad idea. Cause you just run out of money so fast.
Nick Ruiz: (00:13:40):
Everybody wants that Facebook thing, you know what I mean?
Sam Ovens: (00:13:42):
Nick Ruiz: (00:13:45):
And that’s a totally like different category kind of business that most of us are never going to be able to really achieve. I mean, I think, I don’t know, I’m not a huge tech startup guy, but yeah.
Sam Ovens: (00:13:55):
I mean, sure. There’s always going to be a percent like the guys that start Instagram or snapchat or, Facebook, but I mean, as far as the like replicable process and there’s no replicable process in that world, where in the software world there is, and if you want to have a pretty solid chance of succeeding, your best bet is to just not touch that industry.
Nick Ruiz: (00:14:36):
Yeah totally. So you looked at it as kind of like, Hey, this is a learning experience. I’m young, you know what I screwed up, here’s all the things I did wrong. I’m going to bounce back in a different way and tweak all this stuff.
Sam Ovens: (00:14:46):
Yeah. Plus from my Googling and reading a couple of books I knew that every single entrepreneur, usually fails on their first business, without a doubt.
Nick Ruiz: (00:15:05):
It’s a little depressing, right?
Sam Ovens: (00:15:07):
Yeah, for sure. But I mean, it just, I was like, this isn’t even abnormal.
Nick Ruiz: (00:15:13):
Right. Cause you did your homework and you’re like, yeah. I mean that was great that you actually took the step where you’re like, all right, I failed, who else failed? But a lot of people don’t ever get to that point. They think, I failed, I’m not entrepreneur material. And I think some people listening here have that kind of issue, that’s why I wanted to bring it up. They think that, I guess if you don’t make it on this try, when you think you have the greatest idea, I just didn’t have that lucky hit. So entrepreneurship may not be for me. When at the end of the day, nine out of 10 new businesses fail a lot of the time. I still remember Robert Kiyosaki years ago, I read his book, rich dad, poor dad. Have you read that?
Sam Ovens: (00:15:54):
Yeah, I have, yeah. Ages ago.
Nick Ruiz: (00:15:57):
Yeah, It’s old. But I remember him saying somewhere in the book that if someone tells you that nine out of 10 businesses fail, well then start 10 businesses. And obviously it’s a little more complicated in that, but at the end of the day, business has factors of simplicity. I think, you don’t need to be a genius to be an entrepreneur that makes money. And I think people also think that with entrepreneurs it’s either you go from zero to a million, but there’s many entrepreneurs that squeak out five grand a month or 10 grand a month, you know doing what they love to do, you know? And I think that’s important for people to realize that the entrepreneur doesn’t mean Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates, or, these guys that are on the face of LinkedIn, spitting all this stuff. Like you don’t have to be them to be an entrepreneur. Right.
Sam Ovens: (00:16:44):
And you’re right about the basics. I mean, when I started to get pretty good at business, I was only ever looking at like a few new things. Yeah. And same today, like if you were to check out snap inspects Facebook page and Twitter page, I mean, you’d probably laugh. And those are the things that people usually focus on. Why would I laugh? Because I just don’t even know what’s on there. I don’t think there’s been a single update right. In like almost two years.
Nick Ruiz: (00:17:28):
But you are growing without it, because you’re not spending time on that. you’re doing other things at work.
Sam Ovens: (00:17:34):
Yeah. Well, we just focused on like the vanity metrics, right? Like how many Twitter followers, how many likes, how many shares, how many Facebook friends, whatever. Whereas in my business I just, one is like revenue, the others like profitability. And then all of my conversion rates, so, visited a free trial, free trial to sign up then, retention rate, what percent of customers do we keep, do we know the customer lifetime value? Like those are the only things I actually care about.
Nick Ruiz: (00:18:24):
Yeah that makes sense.
Sam Ovens: (00:18:26):
And I mean, my time spent on those and now those are the only things I really look.
Nick Ruiz: (00:18:36):
That’s why you’re growing because you’re focusing on the right metrics. Right.
Sam Ovens: (00:18:40):
It’s funny. It’s like gamification kind of like when you use data to build a particular process, and then you just replicate that process, you start to look at all the numbers and they just tell you all sorts of things. And then you’re just playing the numbers, right? Like, you know that if you get 200 trials, you’re going to get, like for example, a hundred customers and you know what a trial costs, you know what I mean? You just know all of the numbers. And that becomes really simple because I think when I first started my first business, there was no data or numbers or anything. It was purely just, just emotion, lightning, gut feel like, what’s the role, what would I do here? Like, you know what I mean? And the other major thing was talking to like the actual market, my first business, it was all me, it was like a selfish business. Like, what would I want. How should the speech be? Oh, I know how it should be like.
Nick Ruiz: (00:20:02):
Right. And the people that are gonna open their wallet and pay you, you didn’t listen to them is what you’re saying. Right.
Sam Ovens: (00:20:08):
And so, now, like if ever, I have a thought about how something should be. I don’t assume anything. I will first go to the data and see if that can tell me anything and learn what that tells me. And then I’ll also go to the other side, which is like the people and ask them questions. I think one of the best questions you can ask when someone doesn’t buy your product or service is, like honestly, one businessmen to another, what’s stopping from pulling out your credit card right now and, signing up for this? And they’ll tell you what’s stopping them from signing up. Now, when you start to ask everyone that doesn’t sign up a question like that, they’ll tell you the honest answer, and you learn what those things are and just start removing them.
Nick Ruiz: (00:21:08):
Tweaking your model, according to the response, correct?
Sam Ovens: (00:21:12):
Yeah. Well, it might be a product problem. It might be a pricing problem, it might be a messaging problem. And start removing those things. And then, on the other side, when someone does buy a product, ask them, like, why did you buy this? And you’ll figure out why. And then you want to make sure that every other potential customer has that same conversation that made them switch or the same email copy. I mean, sometimes you’ve send someone an email and they’ll send you an email back, like, how do I sign up? A lot of people will be like, Oh, fluke, you know? I mean, a lot of the time if you use that same template and you step someone through that same process in that same email and it’ll happen again. And those are the sorts of things I’m always looking for, in my business.
Nick Ruiz: (00:22:12):
Yeah. Recognizing the small details and patterns that are consistent, right?
Sam Ovens: (00:22:18):
Yeah. Well just realizing what works and what doesn’t and just abusing what does and getting rid of what doesn’t. And nothing is ever done, like nothing is finished anymore. Like just off gut feel or nothing’s ever winged, like, every phone conversation has a purpose. Every email, has, has been tested a couple of times.
Nick Ruiz: (00:22:48):
Totally. Yeah. You have a refined process over trial and error to you have it fine tuned to a point where you know this works and this doesn’t. We’re gonna exploit what works seven days a week, right?
Sam Ovens: (00:23:00):
Yeah, exactly. And then I think that’s when entrepreneurship, sort of becomes predictable. Like that’s one awesome thing that you realize when you start out in business, you think everything’s up to chance in, and it’s not and it’s a fluke, but when you actually get into it, it’s it’s extremely reliable and it’s predictable. It’s nothing that everyone thinks it is when you start out.
Nick Ruiz: (00:23:40):
Yeah. I think that’s a valuable lesson you just told. So for people listening, what Sam is saying in a nutshell is yeah. In the beginning, there’s a lot of variables. Try things. You have to do things. You get negative feedback, you get positive, tweak everything you’re doing accordingly. And things get more and more predictable to where when you put something out there you’re going to receive positive. You’re going to get signups or customers or clients or whatever industry you’re in. But you have to do stuff in order to get the feedback. A lot of the time, feedback doesn’t come until you throw something out and see what is said. Someone says I hate it. Okay. We’ll throw that out. Ooh, I like that. Boom. So yeah, I think you just spoke a beautiful lesson.
Nick Ruiz: (00:24:21):
Everyone listening, try a ton of stuff, take what works, take out what doesn’t fine. Tune it. And then a couple of years down the road, like you said, things become so predictable because you have so many consistent, positive results with certain actions and products and services or whatever you’re offering that, you can predict and project income. I mean, that’s how companies have these income projections. People say, Oh, you did 3 million this year. Next year, we’re predicting to do 4.5. They’re not just throwing that out there. I mean, these people literally know I will be doing 4.5 million next year because of the predictability you just showed us. So that makes total sense, you know? And, and you’re more at ease as you move forward.
Sam Ovens: (00:25:02):
Yeah. And I mean, another major lesson would be to try and sell. Like, let’s say you get an idea for a business. And then, you’re thinking, should I build this or not? I mean, you want to try and re eliminate as much risk as humanly possible. So at snap inspect, I built a mock-up of what my app would look like in keynotes using Keynotopia, which is just these files that you drag around. And inside keynote, I mocked up my app and I was able to set it up
Nick Ruiz: (00:25:43):
You can do that in Keynote? Like literally a visual, like appearance of the app and keynote, you can do that?
Sam Ovens: (00:25:48):
Yeah so there’s a thing called Keynotopia
Nick Ruiz: (00:25:53):
Like an app within keynote or something, or?
Sam Ovens: (00:25:55):
No, no, no. All it is is just files. Like the UI files that open up inside keynote and you drag them around. It’s so easy to use and you can mock up your whole entire product. So I did that. And then, I was able to take it around to people and show them what it was and show them what I was going to charge for it and, give them the whole pitch without having the product. And I was able to sign up 12 people before I built the product. So, I was able to collect the money before. Not enough money to build the whole product, but I was able to prove that it was able to be sold.
Nick Ruiz: (00:26:44):
That’s powerful. And I think most people don’t do that. And that is another lesson learned. You confirmed your marketplace prior to putting a diamond to it.
Sam Ovens: (00:26:52):
Yeah. And so once you’ve learned that lesson, like right now, one of the things that I’m working on is a coworking space in my home city, which is Auckland, New Zealand. Yeah, like so I’m renting a very big office building, like a really cool one downtown and then I’m renting it out desk per desk to start up companies and things like that. So, instead of renting the space, fitting it all out, moving in there and then going “all right time to try and get my first desk”, like that would be a horrific risk. Cause I mean the rent of this place is a quarter million a year just in rent, you know? Yeah. And then the fiber connection and all the other furnitures, it’s probably worth probably 60 K in furniture alone.
Sam Ovens: (00:27:48):
It’s a big risk this time. So what I did is I worked out all of the numbers got a lawyer to work together like a cheap contract and put pricing on it, took photos of the space and basically put together like a package and then started talking to people and getting people on board and actually getting them to pay the first two months rent upfront, which was held in a lawyers trust account. And if the project didn’t hit, we needed 31 people to start the space. Okay. If we hit 31 people before a particular date, then the lawyer would transfer the money from the trust account, into my account. And the whole project would go ahead and I’d sign the lease. If we didn’t get 31 people by that date, the lawyer would disperse all the money out of the trust account, back to the people. So there was no risk on the people. And in doing that, I was able to eliminate all of my risks as well.
Nick Ruiz: (00:28:53):
Beautiful. I mean, that’s a genius little move, to be honest. Very smart.
Sam Ovens: (00:28:57):
Yeah. Well, I mean, this is a quarter million dollar lease, 60 grand worth of furniture and that’s huge risk, but I was able to literally eliminate everything.
Nick Ruiz: (00:29:11):
Yeah. And like people listening, you got to hear this, like Sam is saying even high-risk… Cause just the average person approaching that lease.. That’s an extremely high risk lease, like period. If you look at it for what it is you read between the lines, look at things from multiple angles, you literally took an extremely high risk situation and not even lowered the risk. You literally eliminated all risk period.
Nick Ruiz: (00:29:45):
I mean, honestly, that’s a genius move and that’s one example of a billion in this world that, you can take a situation. So I think those are some really smart moves. Sam, honestly, like, you know how to take a situation, eliminate the entrepreneurial risk that unfortunately 95 to 99% of all entrepreneurs take on because they’re like, I’m an entrepreneur. I take risks. Well, yeah, we all take risks, but I think tweak your outlook, tweak the angles, you see things and you can drop risks from minimal to near zero, if not zero, like you did. So that’s pretty rad, dude. I gotta take my hat off to you for that. That is just smart thinking and it’s not genius work. You didn’t do some calculus problem to figure out how to get rid of the risks.
Sam Ovens: (00:30:33):
I literally risked nothing. And by about February next year, that will be it 200,000 per year in profit,
Nick Ruiz: (00:30:45):
With the rents that cover the lease and then some like the excess? Right.
Sam Ovens: (00:30:49):
Totally. It’ll be 200 grand. That’s what I said about predictable as well. I knew all of mine. I knew what profit I was in and at what point in time if this went ahead, I knew everything. So that by about February, that’ll be 200 grand a year profit business. As well as, having an awesome space for snap inspect and the community and everything.
Nick Ruiz: (00:31:14):
You actually just planted a seed in my head. I mean, I might end up trying to do something like that in my local town. Cause I know a lot of entrepreneurs and I’m in the process of expanding into some space and I have to admit I never would have looked at it like that.
Sam Ovens: (00:31:29):
Well, I got the idea because I wanted a nice space for my own company. And yeah, that’s how I started with the idea and then figured, well hey, instead of having my company pay for an office space, why not actually make profit and have a nice space
Nick Ruiz: (00:31:49):
And obviously every entrepreneurial move you make Sam from here on out for the rest of your life, you’re going to have that nice approach to minimize if not eliminate risk, and that’s that’s an amazing lesson learned for people listening. I think they really need to embrace that psychology. Instead of the classic, I’m an entrepreneur, I got to put up my own money and raise money and if it fails, oh well, I file bankruptcy and move on. You know what, some stuff, I guess eliminating all risk is impossible, but there’s so many ways to cut the pie and just looking at it from that angle is beautiful. I mean, that is genius. So Hey, let me ask you this real fast. And then I want to go into like, some of the details on your really successful enterprise snap inspect. When you became a more successful entrepreneur and believe it or not, it’s just a question that I’ve experienced along with people that I know, did a lot of friends fall off or get jealous or talk bad about you?
Nick Ruiz: (00:32:51):
I know it’s kind of a weird question, but I bring it up because number one, I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 18 or even younger really. And I just have a few close friends that are entrepreneurs, but I almost feel like it’s hard for me to have friends that aren’t entrepreneurs. And I know that might sound crazy to people listening, but I want to know if you experienced the same thing. I feel like I have to have all entrepreneurial friends or the conversations just aren’t going to play out as well. Right or wrong?
Sam Ovens: (00:33:19):
So for me, I’ve got my entrepreneurial friends, most of them are in America, and I visit them maybe like once or twice a year and chat on Skype and stuff. But my close personal friends that I’ve had my whole, none of them are entrepreneurs. And I kind of like that in a way, because, when we go hang out, there’s no talk of business because sometimes you just need to shut off and and just talk some complete non-sens., Which is what I do with my friends. Were talking about like just meaningless stuff. Right. Which is like, what best friends do. And I liked that.
Nick Ruiz: (00:34:06):
Now, did they ever have any issues with you as you were on the rise as an entrepreneur? I mean, it’s kind of natural.
Sam Ovens: (00:34:12):
Yeah. So when I was kind of failing, they all thought I was an idiot. Especially when I quit my job. Like I had two failures and then somehow on my third time around, I figured, I’d quit my job even though I’d failed twice and lost all of my money. That seemed to so many people like it was stupid. But when I started to get successful, I didn’t lose any friends because I wasn’t like a Dick about it or anything. And what’s funny now is now that I’ve been able to do some more visible things that people notice, they think well he must be doing good.He got a nice car and goes on like a four month vacation or something like that. They actually start Googling you and then you get random messages on Facebook saying “Hey, I’ve been looking at all your stuff, wondering if I could buy you lunch and, pick your brains about this whole like entrepreneurship thing”. And honestly, it’s a whole bunch of people, even people you wouldn’t expect.
Nick Ruiz: (00:35:28):
A lot of lunches once you’re successful, a lot of requests for lunches and coffee. Right.
Sam Ovens: (00:35:33):
Yeah. It’s weird though. No one wanted to hear about entrepreneurship until they started to see like the status things, which is a little bit sad.
Nick Ruiz: (00:35:49):
Right. And then they all want you to make them successful for free.
Sam Ovens: (00:35:55):
Or for a lunch or something, yeah.
Nick Ruiz: (00:35:57):
Here I’ll buy you a $10 lunch and I want you to tell me from A to Z how I can be successful. It’s like, first of all, it doesn’t work like that. But yeah. It’s amazing how many people come out of the woodwork. That’s a fact. I’ve dealt with a lot of that too. So dude, snapinspect.com. It’s it’s a really cool looking thing. I’ve done a little bit of homework on it. Now first off, you knew nothing about like really building software. You don’t build software. I really want the audience to understand that, whatever business they’re pursuing, they’re not all software people, but it’s something like this wouldn’t be off limits. Like they’re going to go to snapinspect.com after they see this interview and they’re going to be like, Oh my God, like this has got this feature and that feature, and it’s got an app and all these funky, photo things you can do in this cool feature. Like they don’t have to know how to do that. I really want to make it clear to people listening and watching. I mean, you follow what I’m saying? I guess what I’m trying to reiterate is you came from the ground up on this. You still don’t know how to program or any of that stuff, right?
Sam Ovens: (00:37:02):
I honestly don’t even know how to install WordPress. No kidding. I don’t even know where our domain names are hosted and how to log into that. I don’t know anything like tech. That’s all developers responsibilities.
Nick Ruiz: (00:37:22):
And you have a successful software company that brings in monthly revenue! So I want to hear how snap inspect, cause that’s your baby, I mean I know you have other entrepreneurial activities right now but.
Sam Ovens: (00:37:32):
It’s still my main thing for sure.
Nick Ruiz: (00:37:35):
So I really want to hit home on this. Cause I think people can learn a lot from what you’ve done and I can learn a lot. I mean I’m interested in tech. I’ve never really gotten into the tech industry. Down the road I’d like to get into something like that. I’ve been mainly a brick and mortar, real estate investing, flipping homes kind of guy. And it’s great, but I’m an entrepreneur.This is an intriguing concept. So I’m personally interested in how you did what you did, on top of people listening. Do you want to walk us through like a few main things here like how did you go from not knowing how to install WordPress and still not knowing, to having this successful software company that’s bringing in monthly revenue? Not like some product launch where you sell it, you make 20 grand and then it’s flapped out.
Sam Ovens: (00:38:22):
Yeah. So I mean the first thing I did was pick a market. I had a focus. I picked a market that I believed had enough people inside it and they had enough money to spend. And that was property management. And then I compiled a list of about a hundred property managers in my local area. Then, I sent them out an email that said “Hey, I’m just doing some research and I’m wanting to learn about the most painful problems you face on a day-to-day basis.” And I got a few replies. Then I started asking if they’d want to talk on the phone. And so we started talking on the phone and I was just asking them about their problems. I had no ideas of my own.
Sam Ovens: (00:39:18):
I just wanted to learn what property managers hate. Like what do they wake up in the morning every day and just like grind their teeth and just not want to go into the office to do. And then after a lot of calls, I realized that was property inspections. They took up a huge amount of time. They were painful, basically what they had to do and what most of them still have to do is print out a checklist, drive to the property use a clipboard and pen, fill out the checklist, use a digital camera, take all of the photos, then drive back to the office, upload everything to the computer, put it all into Microsoft word. You know how hard it is to put a picture in word? You got to format it and stuff. I still hate doing that. And they have to do all of that. And these people have about 50 photos per property inspection as well. And the reports are generally like 20 pages plus, so this is a big job. Compile the report and then email it to the owner and that’s how the process is done. And that’s why they hated it so much. And I figured well, if I solve this painful problem that’s widespread across the entire property management market I’ve got myself a pretty good business. Because people pay for things that take away pain. I mean the simplest way I could put it is you’re walking around on the street and you don’t have any physical pain, you’re not going to buy any painkillers. Right. But the second you’ve got a headache, you’re going to fork out whatever it costs to get some painkillers.
Nick Ruiz: (00:41:08):
Anything; here’s my credit card, just ring it up.
Sam Ovens: (00:41:10):
Yeah. It’s a hundred bucks. If it’s bad, enough hundred bucks for this one pill, just get rid of this headache.
Nick Ruiz: (00:41:18):
And just to interject really fast. People are willing to pay to take away pain more than they’re willing to pay to gain pleasure. Right. Oh For sure. I want a piece of cake, but I might not pull out my wallet. But like you said, if that headache is beating their brains out, they’re going to pull out their credit card 10 out of 10 times. So offering a pain solution is more appealing than offering a pleasure getter kind of thing. But yeah.
Sam Ovens: (00:41:42):
And that’s why I focus on pain all the time. And also another important note is to not to sell a preventative medicine, sell cures. So, there’s lots of things. Let’s say there’s like a vitamin that people could take that may prevent pain. No one’s going to take that or only a small amount of people will because most people only buy when they are already experiencing the problem. So if you have a product or a service that is preventative of a particular pain, you’re not going to have as much fun with it as you would with a cure. I don’t know if that will make sense to everyone.
Nick Ruiz: (00:42:28):
It makes total sense because I’m taking a vitamin C, I don’t know, is it working? I got a cold this year. Would I have gotten two colds if I didn’t take the vitamin C? You don’t know. But when I have a headache and I popped two pills and the headaches gone, that cured my headache. So I agree. That makes total sense. Total sense. So you found the pain; Hey, you guys hate doing inspections. Light bulb. Now what?
Sam Ovens: (00:42:58):
So that’s when I started mocking up the prototype that I was talking about before using Keynotopia. I mocked it up, I took it back to the people, asked them what they think? They gave me feedback and with their advice, we were able to change around things so that it would suit them. So they co-designed the product essentially.
Nick Ruiz: (00:43:23):
By talking to the future clients? Wow, beautiful.
Sam Ovens: (00:43:27):
So they gave me the problem and then they helped me build the product. And then I went away and worked out how much I could charge for it or what I thought I could charge for it. I went back to these people and asked them if they’d buy it and not all of them did, but enough of them said yes. And they paid, two months up front which was refundable if I didn’t get the project delivered.
Nick Ruiz: (00:43:57):
Did they know you didn’t have it finished? No, no, no. They knew. They knew. Okay. And they felt comfortable giving you their money?
Sam Ovens: (00:44:07):
Only because I had a guarantee that if I don’t develop this or if I don’t develop it on time or if I do develop it and you get it and it’s not at all what we’ve talked about, I’ll refund you all the money.
Nick Ruiz: (00:44:26):
Beautiful. Okay. So you guaranteed it. Bingo. So you got their money up front now you approach developers.
Sam Ovens: (00:44:37):
Yeah. So only after, 12 people had agreed and actually paid for it upfront. That’s when I was like, all right, time to build. And it’s when I started talking to developers. I didn’t have much money at that time. So naturally I went to India, not physically, but yeah.
Nick Ruiz: (00:44:59):
Right. Did you go to oDesk or something?
Sam Ovens: (00:45:03):
I went on like everything, Google, E-Lance, oDesk. I mean, when you’re hiring for this, this is very different than when you’re hiring like a developer to build a WordPress website. Like a developer of a software product, you need to select them. It’s a lot more effort to try and find a good one and a reliable one. I started off with maybe a hundred applicants across all of these different platforms. Shortlisted, shortlisted again. Had Skype interviews, proposals, all sorts of stuff. Finally had a company that I thought matched and the price fit. Because what the beauty of software development is, they can chunk it down into milestones and they don’t charge you the next milestone till they get that far through the development. And I had enough money to pay the first milestone, like just enough. And I didn’t even know where I was going to get the money to pay the second milestone, but I was like at least I’ve got like a month and a half to figure something out.
Sam Ovens: (00:46:17):
And I did.. I figured it all out and just in time and not using the best methods ever. I remember I got like couple credit cards and stuff like that to cover like some of the costs. And then I released it to those 10 people when it was ready. Ironed out the bugs made sure they were happy and then slowly started adding more people. And then, once it was a good product and people were like raving about it, I really started to scale it up. So, really trying to add more and more users to it.
Nick Ruiz: (00:47:02):
Okay. Did you add more features? Did you like enhance it through time too?
Sam Ovens: (00:47:08):
Yeah. Only over time though that is important.
Sam Ovens: (00:47:15):
Version 1 of Snap Inspect was super, super rough. Well, first of all, we didn’t have a website. So the website didn’t look like it does today. I mean, if you look at snap inspect today, it might be a little bit intimidating. Cause there’s a ton of features, it’s got apps for iPhone and Android. It’s got like a billing system built into it and it’s a big product now. But only now is it a big product. When I launched it, it cost me around $10,000 all up. And it took around four months to build.
Nick Ruiz: (00:48:02):
Is that standard or did that take longer than it should have or is that about right?
Sam Ovens: (00:48:07):
I don’t think anyone should risk more than that. Right.
Nick Ruiz: (00:48:11):
Timeframe wise, is four months about what it would take normally?
Sam Ovens: (00:48:14):
Four to six, I think, although I’ve seen people build stuff faster. And so it was very ghetto and it was enough to sell, but as revenue was flowing and we started to go after bigger customers.. Like we’ve got fortune 500 customers now and some big customers now that pay us a lot more than I ever thought you could charge for software.
Nick Ruiz: (00:48:45):
So you have pricing tiers, for how many units? Is that kinda how it works?
Sam Ovens: (00:48:50):
It’s how many users.
Nick Ruiz: (00:48:52):
How many users. Okay, gotcha. Wow. So that’s pretty impressive, man. I mean how long from start date to now, how long has it been in business for?
Sam Ovens: (00:49:03):
So from when I started out talking to the market, emailing people, talking to them on the phone to now is around, I’d say like 18 months. And from when I actually started selling it… when I had the product built and I went out and tried to sell it to people, it’s one year this month, August. Last year was when I started selling it. Yeah.
Nick Ruiz: (00:49:34):
Okay. so can I ask you how many users you have currently or like how many customers?
Sam Ovens: (00:49:43):
We have around one and a half thousand customers.
Nick Ruiz: (00:49:46):
Wow. Holy cow. That’s unbelievable. And you started with a $10,000 investment and now you’re bringing in, I’m assuming tens of thousands a month. So I mean, would that be about right?
Sam Ovens: (00:49:58):
Yeah more than 40,000 a month.
Nick Ruiz: (00:50:01):
Wow. So, I mean for people hearing, turning $10,000 into that is extremely impressive and doable. Even in the software industry where I think a lot of people are intimidated.
Sam Ovens: (00:50:13):
We’ve had a customer pay us 10 grand for a setup fee, just like because it was a big company and it needed customizations and things like that. So yeah, my initial investment I’ve got back in a day before.So it’s funny to think about it. Yeah.
Nick Ruiz: (00:50:29):
It’s unbelievable because most people would think a project like you’re doing would cost a hundred thousand dollars to build that, and you know what, there’s probably some website developers that would charge that for what you have.
Sam Ovens: (00:50:42):
For what it is now, It would cost more than a hundred grand. Cause once I started making money, I was able to hire a developer. And I’ve now had a developer on, working full time on that product for a long time.
Nick Ruiz: (00:50:59):
Do you have a lot of employees on this or?
Sam Ovens: (00:51:02):
So full timers? There’s four of us. And then with contractors as well, it’s about nine people.
Nick Ruiz: (00:51:17):
Okay. So how much time as the owner, Sam, would you say you spend on your business like weekly?
Sam Ovens: (00:51:26):
Well I think that’s difficult to say because right now the one thing is I don’t do any phone calls, I don’t do any emails, I don’t do sales. That’s completely off, I don’t get emails. I don’t get phone calls anymore but I have a sales rep that sells and does the emails and then someone that handles customer support and someone that handles development. So I don’t have to actually spend any time on the business. But I do… I still spend a lot of time on it. So it’s not a fact of me having to, it’s a fact of me wanting to because I just want more.
Nick Ruiz: (00:52:10):
Well you’re an entrepreneur at heart and it’s your baby. Like you don’t wake up thinking, Oh my God.. I got to work till eight. It’s not like that for you. Your psychology about it is I love growth, I love my business, I’m going to step into it and work today for fun. It’s fun. You enjoy it. Obviously there’s headaches, we don’t want to give the people listening or watching any misconceptions. You have headaches in this business, do you not?
Sam Ovens: (00:52:38):
Yeah. Oh for sure. But the beauty of it is they are never headaches like oh this thing’s just going to collapse. Right. It’s headaches like “why can’t we grow as fast as we did in this month?” Good problems. They’re always good problems. Like oh our billing system is broken and this month we forgot to bill like 10 grand, which actually did happen to us. It’s a good problem because you’ve got enough customers to bill. But it’s a bad one because you need to fix something.
Nick Ruiz: (00:53:26):
All right. Well, we’ll wrap here. I just want to ask you, what are your goals for snap inspect Sam? A year from now, what do you see that isn’t happening right now? Like where do you project yourself or where do you want to be? Or just the long-term picture period. I mean, is this something you want to grow into a worldwide conglomerate in the inspection world? I’m curious.
Sam Ovens: (00:53:48):
It’s difficult because, like when I started it all, I just wanted get a hundred paying customers paying about a hundred bucks a month cause that was a hundred grand a year and that was my goal. And then it was a thousand. And then like to be honest right now, I don’t know an actual number. I just want snap inspect to like solve this problem but not just solve the problem, but also make inspections better. So, once I’d finished solving the problem, I started talking to people and seeing how they were doing. Like one thing I did that was really good was I worked out who were the rock stars of the property management industry, the top players, the people that all the smaller guys looked at and wanted to be like them.
Sam Ovens: (00:54:54):
I started talking to them and having those same conversations that I did at the beginning. I figured out that a lot of them were using video as well in their property inspections because it held up better in court and the clients preferred getting them and all sorts of stuff. And so I built video into snap inspect and it got a lot of the big, big guys in, and that gave us another spike and really set us aside in the market because I’ve got competitors. Now that we’ve solved the problem, I’m looking at how we can make the best practices that the rockstars use available to the whole industry. So how can we make a small property management shop use the same best practices as the big ones.
Nick Ruiz: (00:55:52):
I think with the video, I mean, you’d have to probably charge more because.. Are you hosting those videos too? I mean, that would be costly.
Sam Ovens: (00:55:59):
Yeah, we host the videos too. I mean, video is only available on our higher tiered plans, so there’s a good upsell. So we upped our pricing, and then we dropped our lowest plan, and then we only made video available on the higher plans.
Nick Ruiz: (00:56:17):
Got it. Totally. So real fast, what, as you grow this, what’s like your most effective form of getting your name there, marketing wise? I mean, do you have a certain go-to like platform that brings in the majority of your leads into customers?
Sam Ovens: (00:56:38):
I mean, yeah, I do, but I don’t want to say my best one. An example of one that’s always been reliable and pulled really well was just Google Adwords, or just Google search. Cause when you’re dealing in a niche as small as property inspections and the software for them, it’s not that hard to compete in there. And that delivers us a steady stream of customers every month. And it always has, it’s increasing each month. There is some that we have that work better than that and are our main things, but I know my competitors listen, they’ve got me set up on Google Alerts and they’ll listen to this interview.
Nick Ruiz: (00:57:35):
Makes total sense. You’ve got to keep some stuff quiet. So from the start of entrepreneurship to now, like what could you tell the audience that is like the most rock solid foundational lesson? What, what did you take away from your journey thus far? You’re going to learn a zillion more lessons before you die, but from beginning till now, what can you put on the listeners and watchers?
Sam Ovens: (00:58:04):
Yeah. I think you’ve just got to learn how to sell, learning sales and becoming a good salesman was honestly like the best time I ever spent. Reading some sales books and trying to become a good salesman because, believe it or not, you’ve got to make money, otherwise things fail. And you don’t make money unless there’s a sale. And most entrepreneurs, honestly, I’ve looked at so many of them now, cause lots of people reach out to me and I’ve had a lot to do with some different communities and things like that. They’ve got awesome products, they’re smart and they somehow figured out how to get it built. They’re just too scared to sell or they think they’re above selling or they’ve got massive sales problems. And I honestly think every successful entrepreneur is a really good salesman. Whether it’s Mark Cuban or anyone, David Ogilvy, Richard Branson, like all of them, none of them are afraid to sell anything and they’re pretty good at it as well.
Nick Ruiz: (00:59:38):
That’s that’s great advice. Yeah.
Sam Ovens: (00:59:40):
So I would focus a lot on becoming a good salesman.
Nick Ruiz: (00:59:44):
Across every industry. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, if you’re a good salesman, I don’t care if you’re selling a service, a product, or what but at the end of the day, you’re selling yourself.
Sam Ovens: (00:59:58):
Yeah. Even CEOs, even if you’re in the whole corporate world and thats your game.. I mean a ton of CEOs are awesome salesmen. A lot of the time they were the guys that started on the phones or door knocking or something.And partners at corporate firms like lawyer partners and stuff like that, you make partner in a big firm because you bring in clients a lot of the time. No matter where you look, whether it’s accounting, law and you want to be a partner or you want to be a CEO, you want to climb the corporate ladder, you want to do anything.. it’s always sales because a business exists to make money and sales is the only way to make it.
Nick Ruiz: (01:00:52):
Right. I agree. I think it’s probably one of the top, if not the top skill an entrepreneur needs period. If you can sell, my philosophy is that if you can sell, you can drop that person anywhere in the world and they are going to start something or create something or work somewhere because they’re always in demand. Salesman are always in demand in every industry across the world, you know? Cause again, in sales there’s like this thing where 10% of people are gonna say no, no matter what, and 10% are going to say yes, no matter what because they love it. But then there’s that whole 80% that your words and lingo and body language can sway them one way or the other. And that’s where the winners bring everybody over to the right side in closing.
Nick Ruiz: (01:01:40):
So Sam why don’t you give yourself a nice plug here, tell people about if they want to reach you, I don’t know if you do consulting or what. What can you say on the way out here, where can people reach you best? We talked a lot just for everyone listening. Sam’s baby is snapinspect.com which is a really cool property management software I was playing around with on the internet. And I saw that your site looks really cool, but is there anything else we should mention here?
Sam Ovens: (01:02:14):
My website is, it’s only got one page but I mean, it always shows what I’m up to, it is Samovens.com. And my email address is Sam@Samovens.com. And if you write me an email that has one clear, specific question or a couple of clear specific questions, as long as I can see what it is you’re asking, I will generally reply to it. So yeah.
Nick Ruiz: (01:02:47):
Cool. All right. Well, Sam, thanks again. We appreciate your time. Obviously you’re busy, so thank you very much. And we’ll talk to you soon. This is Nick from RecycledGoGetters signing out.