Tyler Jorgenson 0:01
You’re listening to biz ninja entrepreneur radio. This show was created for entrepreneurs, business owners, marketers and dreamers who want to learn from the experts of today and drastically shortcut their own success to build a business that supports their dream lifestyle. Since 2011, Tyler Jorgensen has been interviewing business thought leaders from around the world, a serial entrepreneur himself, Tyler also shares his personal insights into what’s working in business today. Welcome to biz Ninja, entrepreneur, radio. Welcome out to biz ninja entrepreneur, radio. I’m your host, Tyler Jorgensen. And today, we have somebody who in my world is a little bit of a legend, David J has been one of the entrepreneurs that I’ve watched and been inspired by, for the last like 1516 years. He’s, you know, part of the reason like Santa Barbara always seemed amazing to me in this iconic place. And now coming to us all the way from Florida. Welcome back to the show, David.
Thanks a lot. Tyler.
Tyler Jorgenson 1:04
It’s great to be here. All right, here’s the question that I always think is interesting to start with. When was the moment in your life that you first realized that you were an entrepreneur?
Well, I don’t know if I realized it at this moment. But I think I was maybe seven years old, and my mom, she tried to pay me to do some chores. And she said, I’ll pay you, you know, $1 if you, you know, $1 an hour to do this, this, this and this. And I said, well, Mom, I’d rather you pay me, you know, per chore. Because if I find a faster way to do it, then I can make more money. And she thought about it kind of chuckled that I was negotiating and said, okay, we can do that. And so I started creating faster ways of solving problems back then seven years old, you’re already like, I’m innovating. we’re innovating this chore routine. Like we’re not going to do this the old way. Love it. Yeah.
Tyler Jorgenson 2:03
So for those that don’t know, David, he has started a lot of companies, like many entrepreneurs are many people think that their founders think that their starters, David is the epitome of this. And I’m so impressed by it. I remember stories that you shared again, like 15 years ago, about how you started in the wedding photography business. And then you realize, like, kind of like what you did when you were seven, hey, the time per hour thing. I’m limited, I can only shoot like, once or twice a weekend, there’s only so many weekends per year, and maybe finish that story. If I’m remembering it, right? You made like a major price change, right?
Yeah, as a photographer, you know, so I dropped out of college back in 2001, and became a wedding photographer, and started to hit all those scale problems, right, you know, shoot so much, you know, I do so much everything falls back on you, you can’t really scale those service based businesses, like scale software. And so I realized that one of the only things I can really do in order to make more money is raise my price. And I had a mentor named Mike cologne. And he’s a phenomenal photographer still to this day. And he kind of taught me how to make some of these price jumps and started to move my pricing. And what it did is it is it really increased word of mouth marketing, because every single person who I’d worked for before, I now validated the decision they had made, right, because now I was so much more. So their photography was essentially worth so much more. And they like to refer me to their friends because it made them look better. And so we kind of use pricing as a lever to increase word of mouth marketing.
Tyler Jorgenson 3:48
That makes sense. But you hit it, I mean, then you hit another wall where you’re like, even with a higher price point, there’s still a limit, you can still only shoot so many times. And I know you have a different philosophy in shooting than a lot of photographers. And so what led you to then say, Hey, I’m not going to be a photographer anymore, even though you now you’re one of the highest paid photographers, you’re highly sought after? And they’re like, Nah, I don’t want to do that.
Yeah, you know, I think most innovation comes from frustration, right? People are going about their life living in a certain way. And there’s something that really irks them really frustrates them. And, and that was certainly the way that it played out. For me. I didn’t like my life to be planned out six months or a year in advance. And as a photographer, it was that way, especially a wedding photographer, it was like, you know, I know what I’m doing next summer, because I’m booking all those jobs this summer. And so it really was limiting and freedom is a big driver for me at one of the reasons that I just moved to Florida. Right. Right. And I’ve realized like my business, you know, as an entrepreneur, as a photographer, was really much more of a job. And I needed to create something that could scale that could grow, that other people could run other people could do. And it didn’t rely so much on me.
Tyler Jorgenson 5:13
And so you did what was the first big move that you did after shooting.
So I was still shooting. So I didn’t kind of do one or the other. But as I was doing photography, I started to build online communities and just help other photographers get started. And oddly enough, that was a polarizing thing. People hated me for it, you’re helping the competition, I blah, blah, blah. And so we build these communities. And this was before Facebook even existed, right? And we’re talking 2000 to 2003 2004. And we build them online through online forums and whatnot. And what we would hear is the same questions over and over and over again, right? How do I market my business? How do I share my photos? How do I create a website, blah, blah, blah, and, and so I went to my buddy, and said, Hey, you know, you know how to make software. And I have this big group of people that needs things to run their business, why don’t you make the software, I’ll sell to all these people. And we’ll split the money at the end of the month. And so we started doing that, and did that for a few years. And pretty quickly, he got to the point of making more in the software side than I was making in the shooting side. And so then as the software company grew, it was like, Okay, this thing needs somebody to kind of take care of it a little bit more. Yeah, like a business, not just like a side gig. And so I gradually moved out of the shooting, and went full, full force into trying to learn how to how to run a company.
Tyler Jorgenson 6:47
Yeah, very different skill set, right. I mean, still, there’s going to be customer service, there’s basic, like, you know, and you’ve got, you had already learned how to manage communities, which is a big part of running a bigger company. But what were some of the major like hurdles that you faced, while you were transitioning from, you know, self employed photographer into business owner and running an operating a business? And how’d you overcome?
It was still kind of the early days, you know, especially of kind of online software, like 2000 567, you still had mostly downloadable programs, right? So the big shifts in tech that affect all the little guys, I guess, are the ones that we got to kind of scramble and figure out solutions for So, you know, you build all the software and you invest all this money in 2005 2006 2007. And then mobile happens, right? And it’s like, oh, man, like, we have to shift everything towards mobile. Right. And, you know, previously, a lot of stuff was built with Adobe tools. Right? Well, now, Apple and Adobe are in this war. And, you know, they’re killing flash, they’re killing air, they’re killing all these things that were platforms for us, that are completely out of our control. And so, you know, those were big shifts in technology that certainly affected us. And we had to kind of move around but, but also just startups, startups are hard. And,
Tyler Jorgenson 8:13
but yet you keep doing them. startups are hard. And it takes a very specific like, personality, but then also having mentors having skills, things like that, right. So what’s, what’s a piece of advice that you give other people that are considering startup? Like, what’s something that’s just crucial? If someone thinks they want to be a founder?
Well, I would say what’s crucial is that if they think they want to be a founder, and they’re not already a founder, then there’s a problem. Right? Like, somebody who’s going to go into startups, like, almost needs to have the attitude of like, I have to do this, and nothing is gonna stop me. Nobody’s gonna stop me. And I don’t need permission. I don’t need a degree. I don’t need a certification. Like I’m doing it. And I don’t care if everyone in my world tells me, I’m an idiot. I’m doing it right. And so it’s less about, like, having a great idea or, like thinking through it or having the right mentors. And I think it’s more about just having this sheer willpower of like, I’m going to go and solve this problem. And I’m obsessed, solving this problem. That makes a ton of sense. I
Tyler Jorgenson 9:23
think I heard it recently said, somebody asked, I think it was Gary Vee or somebody that said, what would you give to an entrepreneur if they just need some motivation? And he’s like, if you need motivation, you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur. Like, and I mean, obviously, there’s like everyone has down days everyone has things like that. That’s different. But like, the concept is like, what like what you said, like, if you’re a founder, you like you feel it. You feel it in your bones, like nothing’s gonna stop you. That being said, like, I know that you’ve had mentors, so mentors aren’t not important, right? Like how do you balance that like, Do It Yourself figure it out attitude with learning from the advice of others?
Yeah, I think idea of mentorship and apprenticeship is very important. And it’s one that kind of got lost, right? Because we had a huge shift in the world come right at the time that I left college, right 2002 2003, like with the internet really taking off at that time, big time. And so the problem was that we had really this sharp divide in the world and how businesses was going to operate. The previous model, you know, brick and mortar and all the physical things is great. And it took a certain skill set to run those sorts of businesses. But was I as a, you know, 21 year old little punk going to go and get mentored by somebody who I thought their worldview, just they honestly didn’t have any experience in what I was wanting to do. And so we have, like, now a decade or two of entrepreneurs who really, I would say, snob on mentors, and apprenticing because, for good reason, right? Yeah, the people from the last generation, like didn’t grow up with the internet, their whole model business is different, right? And so we’re circling back around now, after pushing through on all this stuff, or saying, Okay, I need to learn some of these skills that the older generation has, and I need to, you know, learn to be patient and learn to be a little bit more focused on, you know, maybe culture or, you know, building a team instead of just like blitzscaling, right? Sure. It’s like there’s a startup is not focused on culture. It’s focused on dying. Yeah,
Tyler Jorgenson 11:41
survival, getting revenue, right. That’s like, number one.
Unknown Speaker 11:44
Tyler Jorgenson 11:46
Yeah. And it’s funny, I mean, we’ll see some startups where the founder gets overly culture focused. And then the company never gets into revenue, right. And then you have other companies that completely ignore culture. And they might get into revenue, but then they have a toxic work environment and unhealthy place. So finding balance, I think, is the challenge for the entrepreneur today, the founder today is to say, building a company that has a brand that can scale with the team that wants to be there. You’ve started quite a few businesses now. Right? So you’ve done you started with, show it right, your first kind of the first one, and then you’ve done other since there, right? Looking back, was there like something that in hindsight, you’re like, oh, man, I would have done this differently. Or I would have founded one of these companies differently. Like, what’s that lesson that you’ve learned that you can pass forward to others?
Yeah, I mean, I probably would have started all of them differently.
Tyler Jorgenson 12:37
You know, even your most recent one, like so. Now you’ve started warm welcome. That’s recent, like if we’re already wanting to make changes, I guess it’s early enough to pivot.
Yeah, that’s the thing is you continue to move and, and warm welcome was one that we started very lightly kind of as a test. And we were like, how cheaply can we build an MVP? You know, everyone talks about like, oh, in order to build a, an app, it’s gonna cost hundreds of 1000s of dollars. And whatever, we said, well, can we get the MVP for 10,000 bucks, that’s a reasonable amount of money that somebody else, if they had an idea was like, I need to go build this to a proof of concept that I can go and show people and test the market with. And so that’s what we did. And we got it to that point for 10,000 bucks wasn’t great wasn’t pretty wasn’t something we were going to go and try and sell. But you can take it around, show it to people and say, hey, check this out, is this something that you would use, you know, and if we got enough, you know, positive reactions, then we would continue to build on it. And so that’s what we did. And that’s something that I didn’t do early on, you know, all the first ones were like, We have this grand idea, let’s spend six months developing or sometimes a year developing on this idea. And what happens is you, you have all these ingredients that you’re using to make the solution to make the product,
Unknown Speaker 14:05
and you put them on the oven, and over time you bake them. And if you bake them for six months or a year, you’re now like, really committed to that idea of working. And so you bring it to the market as like your perfect little baby. And the market says, that’s a piece of crap. And you get really offended and you don’t change it, you don’t iterate you don’t, you don’t take the feedback very well. And when you can bring it to them earlier, not to say hey, here it is, what should we do? But, you know, here’s the problem we’re trying to solve here is a potential solution for it, you know, then you can get their feedback, take it and build a lot quicker. And, and so that would be a big one is get something very light. Very simple out into the market quickly.
Tyler Jorgenson 14:55
Yeah, I feel like um, that’s something that the book ready fire Aim really addresses is like, don’t spend so much time thinking it has to be perfect. But I’ve never heard it said that way. And I think the way you worded it where if you spend too much time like baking your idea, you’re not willing to make the changes, because you’re so bought in and it’s human nature, right and to have, you know, hold on to bias and hold on to what we’re used to end. But if you keep it shorter, and you keep that feedback loop faster, you’re not as married to those things. And so you don’t have that emotional reaction to making adjustments and changes. And I think the goal always has to be like what’s right for the market and what’s right for an individual? How do you balance between ego and like, the actual bigger goal of serving and think and that sort of thing? Is that ever a challenge?
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, egos a important piece of the puzzle. And I’m actually reading a book from this guy named Richard Rohr. He’s a, he’s a, he’s like a Catholic priest slash monk, phenomenal guy. But he talks about ego and building that structure. And that container is a really necessary piece in the first half of our life. And we build companies as a result of it, we do a lot, a lot of things because of our ego. And we often look at it as like this negative, but it’s actually very necessary. And what we don’t want is to carry all of that into the second half of life, right? You don’t want the 70 year old narcissist, you know, the egomaniac that’s still trying to prove themselves to the world when they’re 70. But you do kind of want the 20 year old doing that, because that’s what really brings energy into the world and into projects. So yeah, I battle with that. I’m 40. So I’m right in the middle and trying to work on to the second stage, but I’m still you want to use it for what it’s good for, and not take too much of it. Because it can be bad. Yeah, I
Tyler Jorgenson 16:53
think. And that’s I think, as the this generation of the digital entrepreneurs, right, it kind of like the xennials. If you look at like market groups, like we, those of us born between 78 and 82, where we kind of like plugged in the internet. So we have this amazing ability to like, remember the analog days, but be doing business in the digital days. And so it’s this time where we have this, you know, kind of unique advantage where we can still connect to the older generation, but we don’t understand the, you know, some of the like, one of the things I always ask people, if like interviewing for a company is like, what do you do if the internet goes down, and they don’t even know like, what a router is? Because they didn’t have to ever connect it there. You might go, I don’t know, you just tell the receptionist to reset the internet and they don’t even understand it. But so I think there’s this unique advantage. And I think that that concept can happen anytime where we say okay, let’s make sure that we have that balance between ego as a driver, and ego as a wall. Right. And so the self or the entrepreneur as the driver as or as the wall that’s actually preventing growth and putting preventing opportunity. Let’s talk a little bit about what you’re at. Now. Tell me about like, you know, you took warm welcome. You did a minimum, you know, an MVP on it, you got it up and running. What are your goals for it? What’s going on with with warm welcome?
Yeah, so it started as just a simple way to send videos through email. And we’re like, Oh, that’s cool. And people were, you know, giving us feedback on that. And then we said, well, shoot, why don’t we make this as a way to personalize your entire business? Right? Well, then COVID happens. Everyone’s working from home. Everyone’s isolated, everyone’s missing people. Everyone’s wanting a deeper connection with the people that they do work with. And so we’re like, well, shoot, let’s just do, let’s use video as a tool for that. And I think it’s, it’s a huge shift in a way that people communicate. And it’s really important for us to look at it outside of just a one year one decades sort of thing. And look at this shift in how people communicate as like a, like a shift, a 600 year shift.
Unknown Speaker 18:50
Because it was, you know, about 600 years ago that the printing press came out. printing press, as you know, is one of the first things in the world that scaled it, right? The way that we communicate, so the world got obsessed with it, right? And we you have to have like a million ways to write things. You can type an email, you can write on a journal, you can write a post it note, you can have a leather bound journal or a paper bound journal or a book, you know, or, you know, SMS message. There’s a million ways for written communication. You know, Facebook, Twitter, they’re all like, kind of focused on written communication. Well, look at the last year, look on Facebook, look on Twitter, like is written communication, a great way for humans to communicate?
Tyler Jorgenson 19:37
Definitely not during political years. Yeah.
People get so angry and we tend to read things in a negative frame in writing. If somebody said something to us just kind of a blanket statement, right? No emojis, no little smiley faces. No, nothing just like it statement. It doesn’t feel neutral. It feels Negative time, the more of those that we read. And the more we interact that way, the more negative it is. Video, on the other hand, combined with the internet is now a scalable way for humans to communicate. That brings so much more there’s nuance to it. There’s, you know, when I’m talking, you can see when I’m smiling or when I’m not, or you hear my tone of voice. So all these things create a much better way for humans to communicate. And so how can we transition? All these things that we used to have that were all text base email? For example? Why not do video emails, your business card? Why not have a video business card? Right? You’ve got your website, most people’s website is like a bunch of text. Well, think like if you walked into the Apple store, and all there was was like products and descriptions of products, you’d have a much different experience, right? There’s a reason why at the front of every Apple Store, there’s somebody smiling and waving at you saying how can I help? Most people’s website, there’s nobody smiling and waving saying how can I help. So you know, the internet is becoming the way that people buy things, but we have a personalized it yet, we haven’t really connected it to humans. And so putting a video bubble in a warm welcome does all these things, but a little video bubble or an embedded video where people can interact, they can send you a video back, all those things just really up the game and help people stand out.
Tyler Jorgenson 21:32
I love that, like you went from this, like, let’s have this, you know, MVP, this basic idea to we’re gonna revolutionize communications globally, right, like such a, that’s like such a true entrepreneurial leap right of like, this is a good concept to like, it’s going to be world domination. And I just love that. And so I think it’s fascinating like, because I’ve never really thought that written communication is inherently interpreted in a negative sense, right? But I am such a big believer of being able to read tonality and body language and like emphasis and pause and all those things that matter in verbal communication. So video is is your guys’s solution to that gap? and warm welcome does that for like, what who is the ideal customer for warm welcome,
really small businesses, I think they’re the ones with the biggest impact in real me look at the US, it’s mostly small businesses. But also, they’re the ones that are often driven by their personality, the personality of the founder is the brand of the business. It’s not like Coca Cola, where like it has its own brand outside of a person, you know, but all of these businesses, even like a contractor, you know, they have to build trust, if you’re going to have somebody coming into your house and working, then you got to build trust and best way to build trust, put your face on something, you know, yeah, I’m gonna work with a real estate agent. Like, you want to know who that person is like they’re doing a huge transaction for you.
Tyler Jorgenson 22:58
Now, what I think is fascinating, David is like looking through your your entrepreneurial journey where you started in the service business, and then you created a solution for people providing that service. And then like, you continue to kind of evolve within that work in that community. You guys, you founded agree.com, which is an amazing domain, by the way, which I believe helps with like contracts and agreements. But now you’re like, Okay, we have all these solutions. But like, let’s make them human again. And that’s what warm welcome is that last? It’s almost like you’ve you’ve putting all this ecosystem, and then each thing builds off something that may have been missing in the previous one. I don’t know if that’s right. But that’s what it looks like. And I just think that’s so neat how like, some people jump and go totally different directions. And it seems like yours has a very organic flow, like, Is there something that you’ve done that’s been so far out of your normal realm that you’re like, oh, that was a weird project to go after.
I would say they’re all kind of outside of my, my skill set. But that’s the fun of it is like solving problems that you never had to solve before. I think that’s why I got so bored of photography. It’s because, you know, after a while, like you learn the mechanics of photography, and it’s like you’ve got lighting to deal with. And then you’ve got, you know, your aperture, your shutter speed, and the subject. And so there’s like, there’s really only a few things that you can do to get a better picture. When you’re dealing with a company that has people and products and all these different variables you can get really creative with, with how you create things, and what you create. And so that’s been the driver for me, once you solve a problem, it’s done, it’s solved. It’s not interesting anymore. And so I try to grow companies to a million dollars if I grow them to a million dollars, you know, a year I’m bored then because it’s been approved now. You know, it’s like then I mostly step out and I advise those companies but someone else runs them, tries to take them from one to five right? That’s a different person different skill set, you know, they’re going to have a different set of problems that I’m not interested in solving. I’d rather go start a new company and do something in the startup space.
Tyler Jorgenson 25:12
I love that. That’s kind of a similar thing to my skill sets in the like e commerce side. I just love I love starting, it’s so fun to like, create, have an idea. And then see somebody actually purchase that idea, like in the ultimate sign of agreement, right is here’s money. It’s just the it’s so fulfilling. It’s so fun. But I have no no desire to like manage a large Human Resources team and all that complexity, right? It’s just not what I enjoy. Well, David, it has been It has been an absolute blast. For everybody listening, I highly encourage you to go to David J. Calm learn more about David but check out warm welcome, calm his newest startup and see how video can help you in connecting with your ideal customers. David, you and Dale were like foundational in the understanding the difference of like, building businesses and lifestyle design. Okay, what’s one major item on your dream line personal that you’re going to accomplish in the next 12 months? Well, I
want to sell a company. So that changes a lot of things. But yeah, we made a big move out to Florida. And so on the personal side, the driver both in moving to Florida and selling a company is to actually get more into the physical world. I have two young boys now. And so I want to be able to do work that I can do with them. So you know, get a ranch and like go outside and build something together. I’m tired of stiff firing my kids and I got to go do another zoom meeting. Right? Right. They don’t understand it doesn’t build the value of work for them. They don’t appreciate it. But if they if it’s worth they can do it their dad and I can go out and build something with them or go clean up the animals like that builds into them and appreciation and understanding for work. And so that’s the big change on the personal side.
Tyler Jorgenson 27:00
I love it the multi company software guy is like time to work in my hands let’s do this. Really Really appreciate it David everyone really appreciate wherever you’re tuning in from if you’re listening on ABC News or watching on YouTube or listening on the podcast appreciate you and all my businesses it is your turn to go out and do something Thank you for tuning in to biz ninja entrepreneur radio. What you didn’t hear was one more very important question that Tyler asks each guest if you want to be a fly on the wall when the real secrets are shared. Go to biz ninja.com slash VIP and get your access today. Remember to subscribe so that you don’t miss any future episodes and are one last favor if this episode was meaningful to you. Please share this podcast with a fellow entrepreneur so they can grow along with us is ninjas. It’s your turn to go out and do something