SaaS Founder Interview with Jeff Schwerdt, Founder of Viper Consulting
In this episode, we talk to Jeff Schwerdt, founder of Viper Consulting, about his latest SaaS business and a successful exit from his last company.
Andy Halko 0:05
Awesome, welcome, everybody. It’s Andy Halko and Tony Zayas from SaaS Coach. And today we’re doing a show from my house, Tony popped over. And so we’ve got some kids and dogs running around, we’re having a good fun time, I think the entire company is actually coming over pretty soon, we’re gonna hang out and cook some burgers and stuff. But today, we’ve got something really, really exciting. We have a great founder, entrepreneur, friend of Tony’s who is on with us today, Jeff Schwerdt, who’s going to be talking about kind of his history, what he’s done in the world. And I’m gonna hand it over to Tony, to kick us off and introduce Jeff and, and then we can go from there.
Tony Zayas 0:54
Yes, thank you, Andy. So real quick, I’m excited to Jeff, have you here to join us. It’s been a while we’ve known each other quite a while. And I think it’s been a couple years since we’ve actually had a conversation like this. So I’m excited to hear a little bit about you know, what you’ve been up to, and what’s the latest, but what I figured we’d start with is we kick it off, and maybe tell the history, you and I say 2007 or eight,
Jeff Schwerdt 1:23
It’s been a long time, we’ve known each other since like, the inception of my career and yours here. First, in the marketing world, that’s
Tony Zayas 1:30
Yeah, very much true. We met at a marketing conference, we ended up, we dinner the night before the conference started, we sat next to each other kind of, you know, got to know one another, and then decided to sit at the conference together, and just kind of hit it off, stayed in touch. And we ended up working on some projects together, which was really cool. I think that was you’ll hear about that, as Jeff tells his story in his history. But Jeff, you’re a super unique background prior to your whole marketing and software career. Do you mind sharing a little bit about kind of, you know, your background, where you came from? It’ll explain some of the stuff that’s behind you there.
Jeff Schwerdt 2:08
Yeah. So this is all my all my old stuff. You know, this is my, my man cave, if you will, is my office. So it’s like a mini apartment with all that cool stuff. First of all, thanks for having me on, guys. I appreciate it. And you know, Tony, it’s always great to catch up. And, yeah, I know, it’s been a little bit of time. But you know, we always just jump right back into the flow. So that’s, that’s really cool. So yeah, let’s talk about the beginning how I got here. For me, since I was a little kid, I wanted to fly airplanes. And as you guys could tell, probably, or we could see the video, but like, behind, there’s a bunch of patches and says pilot on the top my name. I wanted to fly jets to the Air Force. And that’s what i was able and lucky enough to do from my high school to college into my career path and was able to eventually get into an F 16. And I had about eight years or six to eight years in the F 16 with eight and a half years in the Air Force before I blew a disc in my back in 2007. Actually, you know, right at the end of June of 2007. So basically like 13 years ago, this month, and then, you know, was one of my last flights and in the jet. For me, it was kind of one of those like, Whoa, moments where you think you’re invincible, and then all of a sudden, you know, you get slapped with something that, for me, it was unrecoverable from I had surgery in September of 2007. And then we’re supposed to be able to get back in the jet six or 12 weeks later, there’s 12 weeks later. And then six weeks later, my disc re slipped. And then by the time I got back into the doctor and got all the medical stuff cleared to go back in and get it fixed. Again. The original doctor who happened to be an ex flight surgeon in the military said it’s more dangerous for me to go in right now than to let you recover slowly over die, which meant that my career was essentially over. Because I couldn’t fly I was in I was like in pain, severe pain all the way down like my ankle, anyone who’s ever had back pain, like I couldn’t stand up like that. That’s how bad it was. Like I just collapse to the floor. So that point time like you are in a hospital bed or on a couch, you’re kind of looking, what am I going to do next? Like, you know, how am I going to pivot my my career, I can’t go get a job, but I’m still working, you know, in the government. What I was gonna do next. So I was able to talk to go by med group matters, they will talk to people that were the flight surgeons and their best option for you is we’re going to work to get you medically retired after you know, basically the 12 month period of trying to get better. And that’s where Tony I started dabbling into the online world like how am I gonna make money online from a laptop, you know, in my spare time because again, I couldn’t work. And that’s where eventually you’ll unite cross paths at one of I think I’ve probably my first marketing conference. Probably one of yours, too. We’re just Kind of like, Hey, dude, how’s it going, you know, just be cool somebody and then sit down, we all had dinner and hung out and, you know, kind of just forced that that bond from there. But from that point forward, it was like, Alright, I have to get what I’m going to do next, what’s my second act in my life and I was a young, younger at the time, I was like 29, or 30, not expecting to basically have to pivot into do something else, I took, basically the motivation and determination that I had from being younger to fly and working 12 hours a day in the Air Force and transfer that over to how do I work when I’m not working in the Air Force to my business, and then eventually transitioning full time and Alright, time to grind and get my actual online business off the ground. And then that’s where it kind of just started to go from there.
Tony Zayas 5:49
Yeah, and I think a lot of those attributes that you have, like, definitely came from, you know, your background, like, you’re really focused, you get stuff done, and you know, all those things, you don’t have an obvious impact in your business career, when we first started, so we met at that marketing conference and kind of hit it off there. At that point in what we were diving into was a lot of like online courses and things like that. And we had some really great success doing that. And that’s why I think, as part of one of those is when you first started your first software project, I believe, right?
Jeff Schwerdt 6:25
Yep. That’s, that’s exactly. And it’s funny that you, you know, just as much if not more about, like, where this all came from, because you saw from a different perspective than I did. It’s, yeah, it’s 100% true, you know, after having almost 1000 hours in the jet, and taking kind of what, you know, I learned previously, I kind of grew up with that, like mindset. So it was kind of it wasn’t like, it got beat into me, by the Air Force. I kinda was already that, on that, that way of the way I thought about things. I think a lot of founders are like that to you, you have a very specific way that you do things and your personality, you know, so I fit really good in the military side of things. But when it came to my business, yeah, we were doing training products, right? Here’s, you know how to do this, first of all started with video marketing, how to do like SEO for business, and, you know, business assets for websites. So that’s how I went from internet marketing to working with small businesses was, Oh, you do marketing? Well, clearly, I’m a business, I need marketing, can you do that for me, and that’s kind of how I transitioned over, but doing some of the local stuff and the SEO, and that’s where, you know, you and I started really working together, we had to keep up with, you know, as the economy was interesting in about 2008 2009, to 2010, you know, basically, the cream of the crop is the only thing that survived. So you had to differentiate yourself from everybody else. And to do that, anybody can create training, anybody can say, I’ll go look at these four courses, put something together, and then offer it or take what you know what you do, and then then offer it. So we decided to create a small piece of software that generated leads that would back and you didn’t have to worry about, you know, Google API’s and, you know, places keys and things like that cost, we could go out there and we create a little desktop piece of software that I was able to bonus into one of the first couple packages that we were selling. And then that’s really, really kind of a lightbulb moment went on for me, when I started seeing the conversions of people saying, well, I’ll get this just because of this piece of software that you’re including in it, because you included this that somebody else didn’t, and then went out there and continued to sell it then actually ran a pretty good sell where he sold about, I think, 5500 to 6000 copies in a week of that software and like a fire sale. And then that’s where I was 100% sold on software from from that point forward and continued to say, Alright, what are we going to do next with with our plan and growing forward, and this was just a small little desktop tool that over the course of, I don’t know, a year cost me less than $30,000 to build back then which I know a lot of you will be like, wow, that’s that’s not that much other people will be like, that’s a ton. But realize, if you’re doing small bits and building it up, that’s 2000 $3,000, less than $3,000 a month that I’m investing back into this thing, and we’re able to get it out the door. And for us, we just happen to find through a friend of mine, a little code house that could build it quickly. And then, you know, just reinvesting that money to be able to build out a bigger, bigger piece of software every couple months.
Tony Zayas 9:22
Yeah, that’s awesome.
Andy Halko 9:25
Yeah, it’s very cool. And, you know, just kind of something that stuck with me was you mentioned, you know, after you got injured, injured, not feeling invincible anymore. And then you started talking about your mindset and background. I’m just kind of curious, like, as an entrepreneur, someone, talk a little bit more about that mindset, personality, you know, risk adversity, of starting, you know, and I think about feeling invincible when I started my business the first couple years, I think my risk tolerance was really Really high? Yeah, you have that kind of feeling of a kid of being invincible, then you might get beat up a little bit. And I see entrepreneurs dip in their risk tolerance, and kind of curious your mindset and approach from that person.
Jeff Schwerdt 10:13
It’s almost like going from like, you know, purity to a teenager to an adult to like an elderly adult. And the way you look at as an entrepreneur, like, you’re like, 100%, you know, velocity, but no vector of what you’re actually doing, when you first start out, you got an idea, you’re super excited about it. But then as you get some of those bumps and bruises and scars, or like you learn something, you obviously time and education, you can’t take away that, you know, so you learn and understand. So, yeah, you start I think, manage and assess risk better, because you don’t know what you don’t know until you’ve experienced it, or you’ve heard it from somebody else, oh, it’s great to learn from somebody else’s mistakes that you don’t make them. And I’ve been good about that. But you also, if you don’t, if you’re not aware of certain things that could happen, or what somebody else could be doing, or, or whatever it is, until you get to that point, I think as you age, as an entrepreneur, it’s almost like just growing up in general, you know, you are less likely to take the bigger risks. Yes, the big rewards are exciting. And, you know, a lot of people always do that. And some of those guys go on to make millions and billions. But other guys, you know, you just take that consistent step up constantly, and you take that lower risk, but a good return. And then that will compound over time, there’s nothing better for compounding things than time, right? The education that you’ve got the amount of effort that you put in your traffic, all those kind of things as you build up over time, it gets bigger and bigger. And it starts to like, you know, snowball. So for me, I think that risk aversion and understanding what you’re doing as an entrepreneur, as you get past, you know, your first either failure or your first success, you learn, and then it’s about the mindset of, I’m just going to keep going forward. Like, there’s certain things that I probably should be thinking about in my past of like, you know, we did this with software, or we screwed something up, I think I just understand that moving forward, that this is what I’m going to do. This is the plan that we have, we’ve looked at and mitigated our risks. And we’re willing to take this as an acceptable risk level and move forward. So I’m going to put out this amount of capital towards it, or this amount of time and energy. And then just, I’m positive thinking, I’m not worried about what happened, I’m going to take what I learned and apply that moving forward, or, you know, take either like a coach or another mastermind group or something like that, where I can get that accelerated success from or that accelerated knowledge base, and then move forward from there. So there’s plenty of groups that either I work with, or I’m in, or that I’ve been a part of, where, essentially, you’re paying for knowledge and acceleration of that, basically, risk aversion and that understanding where you can say, well do that stupid, because you haven’t thought of one, two or three. And you can go Oh, well, yeah, I did think about that. Or, you know what, I understand that, but I’m willing to take that risk. And you know, and sometimes it’s hard to sit down and just let it be as an entrepreneur, especially even for me, I can go thousand miles an hour all day long, right? But to sit down and stop and think about what the difference of what these two options I’m gonna potentially gonna take could do for my business. And just, you know, let marinate for a day or so and then and then go from there. Firstly, we may have just dropped off the video.
Andy Halko 13:25
Yeah, it looks like your videos off. I’ll keep talking if we can take a look. Um, you know, what was going through my head as people always ask me, you know what it’s like when I started the business, and I usually described myself as a, I’ve got the wily coyote mentality, where, you know, if I run off the cliff, as long as I don’t look down, I don’t fall. So just keep moving forward.
Jeff Schwerdt 13:52
That’s a great way to put it. Yeah, I think you’re 100%. Right, right. When you first start out, and you know, it’s as you age in life as an entrepreneur, that you you learn things, you’re more seasoned, you understand certain things that you didn’t know before, that no school can teach you. There’s, they can’t teach you certain things. It’s just experience. And once you have that experience, you can you can grow from there.
Tony Zayas 14:16
Jeff, you want to try hitting that? I think it’s like the webcam button, like that video button. And there we go. Yeah, it’s
Jeff Schwerdt 14:25
Actually, I’ve been clicking it. There’s a weird connection cuz my camera actually went off and came back on so
Tony Zayas 14:32
Gotcha. Okay, so we’re battling technical issues.
Jeff Schwerdt 14:34
We just get past it. Right. We just wrote That’s right. We didn’t just like, whatever, shut down. Those are little things that just you just get used to and half of you roll with the punches.
Tony Zayas 14:44
Yeah. And just something that I would add is just working very closely with both of you. I think there’s there are definitely some similarities in your both of your approach and kind of mindset. You guys both work in a very focused manner. You guys are both really good at getting a ton of stuff done. Jeff. I mean, I see a lot of similarities in both of you from that perspective. So it was interesting hearing the mindset stuff, you know, from your side, Jeff, and I think something I was gonna add is, I think something that you guys rely on in a very intelligent way, is learning from others. In groups, right, so any part of you. And then I don’t, Jeff, that’s been a big part for you just being involved in masterminds and groups of peers, entrepreneurs, and learning from them, some of that have been really successful, and really accelerating your growth by picking up on, you know, learning from their advice and mistakes, and all of that
Andy Halko 15:43
Yeah, I find the mental aspect of business and entrepreneurship, one of the most interesting of the mentality, I mentor a number of different entrepreneurs, I’ve had my business 18 years now, you know, and so I’ve had huge ups and downs and seeing various scenarios, even though I’m still pretty young. But you know, and mentoring people, just the mentality that people go through at different stages in their business, or even their own natural mentality and how they are significantly impacts every aspect, how fast they move, the decisions they make, the people that they hire, you know, all of these things. So I’m always interested in the mental piece of it. And I think it’s really interesting your background with fighter pilots in the military.
Jeff Schwerdt 16:32
Yeah, I’ve been, I’m pretty hard headed, not like you can’t convince me of certain things or like, I’m so set in my ways. But if I decide that we’re going to move forward, like, unless you give me the facts that we can’t move forward, we’re going to try it. And we’re going to go go from there. And I think it’s the self confidence that hey, if we do it, and actually this might be this and actually, this would come from my background is we hated indecisive, this, you are going to be wrong sometimes but indecisive. It’s kills, especially flying an airplane in like a combat type scenario, right? So make one or two decisions, you’ve only got one or two, are you gonna go left, you’re gonna go right, right, or, you know, high, low, whatever, whatever that is, whatever your decision is at the version of that disappointed decision. But just flailing around and not doing anything is going to wind up killing you. So we can always debrief to why you made the wrong decision, and how we don’t do it again, as an objective. But when you make the right decision, it’s great, right, you move it down there, there. So is that indecision. So me being decisive and pretty hard headed of, hey, look, this is what we’re going to do. And we may be wrong, but we’re going to commit, right? It’s focused faith and effort and discipline for me. So focus on something, have faith in the effort that we’re going to put in that we’re going to get through it, and, and then the discipline to actually maintain that course, either all the way to the end, or where it’s a point that we got to pivot, and then go from there. And I think that those three little factors, right, there have been huge for me, and I talk a lot, a lot of that to my students, and, and then the programming software, if you have that, and you understand that you’re going to stay focused to what you want to do, then no one can take you off that track unless they can absolutely prove to you otherwise, that you need to, and then you accept it without an ego and understand that, hey, look, maybe I was wrong, and then go from there. I mean, that’s actually another thing too, for me is having briefing with you know, as like a lieutenant with a colonel or Lieutenant Colonel or even like a major, and you’re the one that’s in the room that’s in charge. And you need to tell him, you know, respectfully, why we made that decision, or why his decision was bad. So I learned that pretty early on to his you know, how to handle, you know, high risk scenarios, or, you know, basically with people that are my elder, that more experienced senior with me, and to be able to respect them while getting my point across on the wise, and it’s about bringing facts. And here’s why we’re doing this. Here’s what our plan is, here’s the vision and you know, here’s your objectives, and we meet them or not.
Andy Halko 18:58
So let me ask you a question about flying that has to do with business. Yeah, so I’m sure I heard this quote, once, that the number of pilots that go into clouds, and because they start following their guts, and they start moving the plane, they’re not paying attention to their dials, the number of plot, new pilots that come out of clouds upside down, would surprise you, because they follow their guy. And instead of looking at the metrics and looking at, you know, where are there we all to meet or whatever it is. So just an interesting piece of like paying attention to your tools versus your gut. One, is that true from a client perspective? And then to, you know, what is that mindset for you of using data and information versus your gut and you know, the way you approach things,
Jeff Schwerdt 19:51
So number one data doesn’t lie. And the gauges don’t lie. So for me, the biggest thing for me what we’re looking at as a pilot is Yes, it is true. The first couple times you go into a cloud, or it’s at night in the weather, there’s lightning going off around you, things like that, you will potentially be spatial disoriented very, very quickly. And you will feel things because of your inner ear. And this is our getting the physiology, right. So you, your body will think that you’re in a turn, when you’re street level, you’ll think that you’re up right when you’re upside down. So that is, and you’ll start pulling magic upside down, and you’re pulling to get gravity. And now you’re going upside down the wrong way. So yes, that is something that that could happen. It’s been several years as I’ve flown. But I’ll tell you, I have my own stories on those things, like at night thinking that I’m one way or the other, and you’ve got to trust your instruments. So what that means is, above everything else, if you think that you’re doing something, you look down at the instruments, or the HUD and are 16 have enough, that’s, you know, something you’re looking at, depending where you’re at, what kind of airplane you’re in, look at the instruments and trust that they’re giving the right data because they most likely are in you know, how many fight 99.7% of the case scenario. So yes, going out of the clouds going at night, not having any sort of outside reference, your body will tell you something’s that’s your your gut feeling. And, you know, obviously, you want to trust your gut when you’re feeling in business or, you know, personalities that you’re working with, or maybe like a decision in your business. But when it’s talking about the metrics and key data points, you’re gonna have to look at that data, the data doesn’t lie, right? If your conversion rates 7%, it’s 7%. Because you think it’s 50, or zero, doesn’t matter. And the numbers are right in front of you. So taking that data, and then knowing what to do with it is going to be key. Yo, what is your churn rate? Is it you know, you think you’re doing pretty good, but well, you have a double digit churn rate in your business? Or, you know, how are your trials are converting into paid customers? Oh, yeah, we’re doing we’re doing pretty good. Well, when you go, and especially going towards like an exit, or you’re going over and people are looking at the statistics of your business of the metrics of your business, there are certain numbers that you can’t fudge. You can tell them whatever you want. But when you show them what those hard numbers are, that is actually your business, not what you feel it is they only care about the metrics and the numbers and invest in your number. So the data is the number one thing because it doesn’t lie.
Andy Halko 22:15
Yeah, it’s interesting. We just are working with a client. Now you talked about retention and churn rate, working with a client to help them retain users for their software. You know, we’re asking about churn re and all this stuff. And we asked the client about like passive churn people that their cards are no longer valid excetera He’s like, Oh, I don’t think it’s very many, it’s not too big of a deal. And we, we like for some of the digging in the data and found out over the last 12 months, there were 5000 users, that their cards ended up getting expired and not running, causing them to churn, you know, and it was more like a running through a gut instinct. And, and this, this business owner is very good at using data for everything. But for some reason, this one aspect of the business, it was kind of like running with the gut,
Jeff Schwerdt 23:06
Yeah, and then or doesn’t want to know it, or just was one of those things like, if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist, right. So then you got to find somebody else in your business to basically pirate do that. So we did that with one of my other companies with churn and saving customers data that we had a person that actually would, based on that right there, we couldn’t basically go through the Dunning process to get them in, would send them an email, and then pick up the phone and call them. And we were able to save about half of those people because they didn’t know they weren’t quite sure they weren’t getting the information. You know, there’s people with 40,000 unread emails in their inbox. For me, it’s like single digits at all times, except for when I wake up in the morning. But for most people, it’s not it’s literally 10 2040 100,000 unopened emails, you’re in that stack to be read. So you’re not a priority, unless you’re like a sale item kind of thing. So you’ve got to find a way to reach them and you know dening software, or visually add ons, depending on some of the payment process that you have is great way to do that. Because they’ll automatically update cards and things like that for you. And then just personal reach out and go from there is that that would help save somebody on that turn. Because we were able to do that where, you know, if you’re not looking at the data, you don’t want to witness you don’t you don’t have you don’t know what your game plan is because you don’t know what’s sitting in front of you. Yeah, and
Andy Halko 24:23
Then on the other side with it, I was thinking while you were talking about kind of the heads up display and mentality. You know, it’s interesting for me the balance of gut and data, Tony will tell you this, but I like to have like have logical exercises and charts for everything. Like if I’m going to make a decision, you know, I’m figuring out what are the six factors that relate to that decision? How do I rank them, you know, from one to 10? How am I judging whether it should be a one or 10 and then how am I adding that up and looking at it, but then at the end of the day, even though I go through that exercise, follow my But hopefully, that having done the exercise to go through logic and thoughtfulness was part of my guts own discovery of what the right way to go is.
Jeff Schwerdt 25:12
I think it helps give you It helps give you the proper gut feeling, right? Because, you know, it helps riquet. And we used to say, like, you know, it helps ribcage, rebalance your brain, and maybe subconsciously back there that you saw, you know, this line item that told you, Hey, this is what you know, potentially could stick in your mind that might not be at the forefront, but it’s in there. And it’s in that calculation. So I, I would I probably do something very, very similar to that, like, I look at it, and I kind of have a feeling and either I validated or invalidated it and go from there.
Andy Halko 25:43
Yeah, yeah, that’s great.
Tony Zayas 25:46
So moving on a little bit. Jeff, I would love to hear the story about kind of, after we were working together, I know you went into you built out, your next piece of software was with recognition loop. And I know that was successful, I’d love to hear about that. And kind of what ended up happening with that, because I think that’s a great story is Yeah,
Jeff Schwerdt 26:06
So I met my business partner, Zach, at another conference event that I was actually supposed to be speaking about, about the tool that you and that you had you do that the one I built, when when you and I were together, that leads tool, and then we just kind of hit it off about there was my audio my video again. So we hit it off about golf, and, you know, personal experiences in life and things like that. And we were both, you know, potentially getting into the reputation space. And I was doing, you know, web site hosting and things like that we were trying to do they turn you around for that, too, with the with the website hosting. And basically, that kind of redirecting people based on different websites and things like that. And Zach was doing some other things with email. And we decided we were going to basically build a platform to solve a solution for agencies. And he had, the idea was, you know, wanted to see if I wanted to work with him on it. So we decided we’re going to partner up and basically built a company that was called reputation loop, to go out there and serve the agency space in a white label manner, to be able to go help local businesses, you know, generate feedback from the customers, and then based on your positive feedback helped generate the more reviews online. So we actually took that and released it into the space with some great, really great, easy, upfront success based off of the fact that I had this huge list of customers that were agencies because of my software tool. So I basically seeded the start of the reputation product with my current customers who knew me, they trusted me, they knew what we were doing. And then we basically took that and built that out, we had that for about, I think was four or five years that we were continuing to build out. And our goal from the beginning was to build it and to exit the company. And that was something that we were planning on doing from the beginning. And we were clear on that moving forward. So as we went through that process, that was always our goal is how do we make ourselves look good for either a private equity firm or competitor come in, and, you know, basically, scoop us up from there. You know, after a couple years, we had, you know, a couple thousand agencies that we were working with over 10 to 15,000 locations that we were managing, we had franchise enterprise location clients, as well as your, your one off agency that anywhere from zero to three clients and in trying to get them going. So we had a pretty diverse group. But our goal was to basically build a platform that we became one of the most well known if not well known white label agency, platforms for reputation management. And I think we did a pretty good job of that by going out and just doing regular content marketing, working with our agencies and continuing to put out other products that fed into our core products. So we basically would go out and create something to help generate leads to help you close reputation deals into our software. And then we would go out there and sell training and smaller tools to get people back in that way.
Tony Zayas 29:02
That’s awesome. Awesome. Yeah. Very cool. So how did you guys grow up? You? Was it a PE firm that ended up acquiring?
Jeff Schwerdt 29:10
Yeah, so we, we basically had a private equity firm from Silicon Valley, reached out to us a couple of times, I think, Zack ignored them the first couple emails, because we would get we would get like some discovery calls. And you know, all we want to drop in like the typical, we want to give you guys a million dollars for advertising budget like that. We heard that like six times in five years easily. And we’re like, we don’t want that. That’s not what our goal is. And then this B firm came in and they had basically the exact offer that we wanted, and it was at a really good time for us for what we were doing. And we actually, we we wanted to be able to handle for customers and feel comfortable with what we are doing as well because we weren’t leaving the space. And you know, we’re going to continue to be around now. We expect everything to be perfect, but we like their overall vision where they were going when we first met. What their passions were. And when we sat down with them, we got along well, like we had a good conversation, it wasn’t like, you know, you have that uncomfortable feeling. And you’re just like you might, you know, we care about our customers. So we want to make sure that we were handing off, we had a good, warm feeling about it. So yeah, we went through the process, we got pause for a little bit, just for some things that were happening, and then had a successful exit. And in 2019, that were, we were able to basically clean out the closet of everything that we had done together, get all the extra software and products and all the other things that were set up, that was all sold to that P firm. And basically, with a fresh start. started, I started again in 2019, from from the ground up. And you know, me and Zack parted ways went separately in our businesses, friends and no issues. But it was just like, we had a good run. like Tony, we worked together for five, seven years, it was like, great, we had a good run, now we evolved to something else. And we both had different paths that we wanted to go on and go from there.
Andy Halko 31:00
Yeah, it’s awesome, awesome. So tell us about some of this stuff that you’re doing your next stage, I know you’ve got some products out there, you’ve got some new ones launching. So.
Jeff Schwerdt 31:12
So I decided that I was going to be able to build multiple products at a time by creating what I like to call a core admin engine for my SAS platform. And then basically working with friends or partners that I’ve worked with before that I know that can do the marketing side, because I did a lot of the marketing upfront early with reputation loop. And obviously, the other companies telling you, you’re well aware of all that. So I’m trying to basically compound, my overall experience by building core products. And the one that we’re really excited about that’s about to come out is called social rotation. And it’s about getting content out there for small business owners, your doctors, dentists, chiropractors, with content on social media, through images, because they get more engagement on a regular basis and some text on a daily schedule basis. So one to two posts per day, for six months to a year is the package that we’re selling, when we release this, where an agency can go in and they can go and buy a pack of content for a specific chiropractor that is valuable with that chiropractors logo on it, or that dental company, that dental locations, logo and their brand already tied onto it. And then they can just run regular content, they can see and edit it, but basically, it’s already done for them. And it’s scheduled, and it will post to their Facebook account on a regular basis. So now they’re in front of their potential customers on a regular basis or educating or giving good information, good content. So that as we learned, when we were out there building reputation loop, you know, content is king, right? The more content you can put out there that the bigger and better you are. But social media contents really, really difficult. So with social rotation, what we did is we’re able to go one to two posts per day that they’re able to then have, you know, some content underneath it that’s valuable that people will read the like, they’ll share it. And then you know, that gets the name of the brand of that business out there. And you’re staying in front of your customers on a regular basis or your potential customers, because they followed and like that social media profile.
Andy Halko 33:08
That sounds awesome.
Jeff Schwerdt 33:09
Yeah, that’s. So we we’ve been doing it well, actually my partner and it was doing it manually, for a long time. So we basically took a two to three hour process of creating this and uploading it and we took it down to just a few minutes. And you could scale it out for months at a time. And that really allows an agency to show value and scale, or go direct to a business owner and allow them to do it where they don’t, they don’t have to do all this work to figure it out. Because you guys know like implementation, if they don’t implement it, they’re not going to see results. So or, as an agency, you’re not getting the return on the time investment that you’re putting in for the for the what you’re charging the value investment, right. So if you’re charging a couple hundred bucks a month, but it’s taking you, you know, if you’re charging two $300 a month, but it’s taking you 150 to $200 worth of work, you’re really not in profit, right? You’re basically a job. So we’re basically automating and scaling that process for agencies.
Tony Zayas 34:05
Awesome. So when you mentioned that you you’re kind of building this, I forgot how you separate like a software engine. So knowing something is you can create similar types of software apps from that engine.
Jeff Schwerdt 34:20
Yeah, so the way my consulting company built the admin engine was we basically took the white label, reseller level in the user level and built in payments and all the stuff that you need to run a SaaS platform. And then what we do is we partner with somebody we say, all right, well, what, what problem is your SAS going to solve? So we then go out there and we basically then put in that piece of the software on top of the admin engine and it works and it’s out the door. So what I’m doing is I’m basically speeding up my development by anywhere for three to six months, because I’m not recreating the wheel every time. But you around we are creating with a different team, a different piece of software every single time with reputation loop and with so many other The platform that we were building, we started from scratch every single time with a different a different team. You know, everybody has a different concept of what a white label is or how to integrate stripe or how to integrate billing or user levels, it’s like, I was tired of doing the same thing and wasting three to six months of my life every single time, before I even got to solving the problem. And then each system worked slightly differently. So we just condense that into one black box, it solves everything. And then now we just take the other piece, put it on top, and then go from there. So I’ve got a couple that are already in development, that whether they go or not, doesn’t matter to me, because the problem piece is the only piece that I have to put on top because the admin engines already there. And then as long as the partner and I are growing that piece out, then we’re good to go. We’re developing it out. And then when it launches, it’s ready to go. But the core pieces already done. So it drastically accelerates the overall process for me.
Tony Zayas 35:59
Andy Halko 36:00
Yeah. So yeah, what’s, what’s the big mistake and or learning lesson that you’ve had as an entrepreneur over your career.
Jeff Schwerdt 36:15
A one big learning mistake that got pointed out to be right before the sale of our company, was content, we went from doing content once a week, and pain and having a content writer to scaling back, we actually went the complete wrong way. We were like, oh, we’re good. We got some out there. Let’s just do we do it once a month now and ready to go, we should have been doubling down. So doing every other week, we should have been going and doing one to two times a week. So that we are actually continuing to basically get our feeders out there. Because when you start doing searches for relevant content that eventually would come back to reputation, we were popping up on search engines everywhere for a bunch of different other pieces of content that wasn’t just white label reputation management platform, we were able to funnel a bunch of people in from there. So that was one major mistake. And I think that probably cost us you know, a lot of new users, which meant that it costs us in the exit of the company, because we didn’t keep that going. It was you know, we went to monthly, which was great, but we were doing it every other week or weekly. And we should have been doing it weekly, and then localizing it even more into those areas. So that’s something that was a huge lesson learned for me, as I move forward, especially, that’s maybe why I’m into social contact right now is because I learned that and then another thing is, you know, I’m not on social media a lot like some family stuff here and there, my businesses are starting to be more and more. But I now especially now it’s happening here through 2020 is I learned a lot that like you need to be on there and what things a business can do, or the opportunities that are sitting right in front of a business, to be on social media and to grow your presence. The other huge I mean, this was a huge lesson learned for me personally, was I gave up my Jeff Hershey Brandt right I was Jeff Hershey was my call science and F 16 pilots. So you know, shorts, hard to spell, I get shorts and all this other stuff all the time, right? So but people knew who Jeff Hershey was, and they still did if they were part of the product. But I had given up. And I did go all in on this in like 2014, which was the company brand, not me. But I did I just killed beat myself off, which was the wrong thing to do. I didn’t have a location for people to learn more about me or keep going. So while I was growing my brand, I should have also been growing my personal brand and kept that going. So I basically had to start from scratch. Now people know who I am and the people the space or understand who I am. But I didn’t have the followership, I didn’t have the the huge email list that I once had with my company that can brand just for me, because I basically given that up. So in the sell the company, also all my assets disappeared. So I had to go out there and rebuild it. So one key factor I say founders, if you plan on not just doing a one and done is build a little bit more personal brand around yourself, as well. So that when you defeat I mean, most people build SAS, like we’re not here to change the world. We’re here to build a business. And while some people are eventually going to try to change, Well, a couple things, you’re looking to build a SaaS platform to exit and then move on to your next project or take that money and go do something else with it. Which could potentially be you know, philanthropist or whatever you want to do, depending how much money you make, but you need to have something for the long term, your plan B, what’s your what’s your exit strategy for yourself to keep things going? So a personalized blog or personalized content channels and connections that lead people to your main brand is what you need to be looking at and considering and I totally screwed that up and back in 2014 2015 and now I’m paid for and now you know, I’m calling back up the ladder to get my name out there. Because I gave that up. So that was that was a huge lesson learned. For me. I look outside the business The sound of it of like, hey, yeah, we tripped up on Billy or something like that. But I think it’s huge. And a lot of people don’t pay attention to that. And you got to sit down, you got to have that that feeling of, you know, what am I gonna do long term?
Tony Zayas 40:13
Yeah, it’s awesome. Yeah, very cool. I just so where if people want to learn more about you, Jeff, you know, your software, your upcoming projects tell us where they can find out more. I’m sure we put this out there. And we’ll share links and cool.
Jeff Schwerdt 40:30
So the app is calledÂ Social Rotation. So it’ll be onÂ socialrotation.com, there’ll be the new app that we’re putting out there. It’s good to also have a white label, reseller level, I learned that was really powerful for my business. Actually, that’s another good key. If you can do a white label, reseller version, you can have other people out there selling for you, and then teach them that how to sell it’s huge key. I’ve said it like four or five times a day, but I want to I want to get really get that across. But to find more about me and my brand and what I’m doing and all the different platforms that we’re building, Jeff hershey.com, h er s ch why a little bit different. I’m sure you guys have put the link to that on there. But if you just Google Jeff Herschy, I’m sure the website will pop up. And that will link to my consulting agency, as well as the different platforms that are live that are out there, that we’re doing a little bit about me and my history and my background, you’ll see an airplane on there. So you’ll know it’s me. And then obviously, you’ll see my face. So be good to go. But that’s how you can find a little bit more about me and the projects and and where we’re going this year and next year.
Tony Zayas 41:28
That’s great. Thank you so much was awesome catching up with you. hearing your story and some opportunity recently and since we you know, we work together really good stuff. So thanks again for your time and excited to get people in you don’t care. This one has some good value out of it. Yeah.
Andy Halko 41:48
Thanks for joining us. It was a great conversation. I enjoyed it, everybody. Thanks for tuning in, check out sass coach for other episodes and things that we’ve done and also incipient.com our main consultancy, so thanks, everybody. Thanks, Jeff. Any last words?
Jeff Schwerdt 42:05
First of all, thanks for having me on, appreciate it. And you know, what you guys do in here is amazing. Go out there and work your businesses and and you guys, you got plenty for sure with all the podcasts. I think you guys have set up for a lot of good SaaS owners to take advantage of it and really profit. So thanks, guys. I appreciate it.
Tony Zayas 42:21
Thank you, everybody.
Andy Halko 42:23