Boast.ai: The Tough Road to SaaS Success and Beyond
Lloyed Lobo is the co-founder of Boast.ai, a fintech platform that helps companies streamline the process of claiming and financing R&D tax credits and government incentives.
In 2012 Lloyed set out on his entrepreneurial journey, but for years he faced setbacks and disappointments, with multiple failed ventures.
Lloyd's early efforts to get traction with Boast, especially cold-emailing, led to repeated rejections, which ultimately forced him to reevaluate his approach and pivot towards community building.
This strategy proved vital for growth, helping him better understand his customers and expand through referrals and partnerships.
But, reaching their first $1M in revenue was still full of challenges.
However, after several years, Lloyed and his co-founder successfully transitioned Boast.ai from a services back to a product-based company.
After nearly a decade of persistence through rejections and hardships, Lloyed's idea evolved into a thriving enterprise, surpassing the $10M ARR milestone.
Selling the majority stake in Boast.ai was a moment of triumph for Lloyed, but it also ushered in new personal challenges and a reevaluation of his life priorities.
In this episode, you'll learn:
- What early life experiences in the slums of Mumbai and war-torn Kuwait taught Lloyed about resilience and human connections.
- How Lloyed and his co-founder overcame years of rejection and failure to gain traction with their startup.
- Why they pivoted to a services business and how community building played a crucial role in their success.
- Why Lloyed believes that building a services business is the fastest path to your first $1 million in revenue and, ultimately startup success.
- Why after selling Boast, Lloyed found himself struggling with personal doubts and reconsidering what he really wanted from life.
- How, despite his success, Lloyed faced debilitating depression and serious health issues, leading him to re-evaluate his life and what matters most.
Just a quick note about the audio quality of this interview in some parts. Lloyed and I have both recorded hundreds of podcasts so we should know what we're doing by now. But we had endless technical challenges recording this interview.
So apologies in advance for some of the sound quality not being up to the usual standard. But I'm convinced that the quality of the content and Lloyd's story will make up for that.
I hope you enjoy it.
TranscriptClick to view transcript
This is a machine-generated transcript.[00:00:00] Omer: Welcome to the show. [00:00:01] Lloyed: Super excited to be here. [00:00:03] Omer: I'm glad we're finally doing this, man. So, do you have a favorite quote, something that inspires or motivates you, you can share with us? If you build a community, you will not become a commodity.
So, so tell us about Boast. What does the business, what does the product do?
Who's it for? What's the main problem you're helping to solve?[00:00:21] Lloyed: Definitely Boast provides RD funding to businesses that are developing new products or technologies or improving existing products or technologies globally, hundreds of billions of dollars are provided by governments to fund businesses that are innovating.
But the application process is cumbersome, it's prone to frustrating audits and receiving the money takes a long time. So for context, the US government gives over $10 billion each year. Startups can get half a million dollars a year in cash. The US the Canadian government provides over $3 billion each year.
And startups can get up to 64% cash back on their engineering expense. So there's a lot of money at stake here, but nobody likes to deal with Uncle Sam and get pulled into an audit. So what we do is we integrate with the company's technical and financial systems, pull that data in, make sense of it, and then automatically apply for it for on behalf of these companies.
And then we get paid when the companies get the money from the government.[00:01:19] Omer: Got it. Give us a sense of the size of the business for you in terms of revenue, customers size of team. [00:01:26] Lloyed: Definitely. So size of team, close to 120, maybe 130 over 20 million a RR and much more than a thousand customers. See, I've left the day-to-Day of the business.
My co-founder Alex Popa, and I sold about 52%, 53% of the company late 2020. And at that point, I think we were touch 10 million a RR. Then we, we sold that to a growth equity firm. Now the benefit is because we were bootstrapped, we still own the largest chunk of the company outside of the growth equity investors, right?
So we gotta take some chips off the table. Alex and I transitioned out of the day-to-Day. And effectively, you know, we were pirates, right? When you are a startup, especially when you're a bootstrap for a long time, you're a pirate, you're sticking fingers, you're poking elbows out, doing whatever it takes to get things done.
And then there comes a time where you need to transition to Navy. And you know, I think it's funny because end route to 10, we didn't even have salesforce.com then we had no CRM no, no marketing automation system. So we were using a very inexpensive CRM system. We didn't have Salesforce, we didn't have a marketing automation system.
Effectively, all the leads that would come in would be like through event registrations or like people signing up for Zoom webinars. All the inbound leads would all come to my inbox. I would review them and forward it to the salespeople. That was, that was the journey to 10. No, no real marketing team here and there.
Resources contractors and whatnot, keeping it real.[00:03:03] Omer: I love that. So you, you, you stepped away. You, you're still involved with the business, but you've stepped away from the, the day-to-Day aspects of running it. And you know, I want to talk about, you know, you, you, you know, the, the journey for, for you founders in terms of how you came up with the idea and, and built this business.
And I think it's a great story. But before we get into that, let's talk about you because. You have a fascinating background and you are like, you know, you and I have have talked before, and it's like, it's like we just like peeling layers of the onion and every layer has new surprises for me, right? So it's been like, it's been really fun to get to know you better, but I want, I want, you know, in the time we have available for the audience to, to get a sense of that as well.
So why don't we start with like, you know, your, your childhood and, and kind of where you grew up.[00:03:56] Lloyed: Definitely. So, you know, my parents are from India. They were piss poor. My mom grew up in the slums of Mumbai. My dad was a farmer. They weren't educated at all. And so they couldn't go out west, they couldn't study out west.
Back in the day, your only option if you were in India and weren't educated was either work there or go to the Middle East where the currency translates significantly higher. So for better prospects, they moved to Kuwait. And my dad actually self-taught himself to become. A executive chef. And when he retired, he was a very celebrated Shane.
They were to see executive chef for a guy who wasn't educated. And not only that, he also applied for immigration to Canada on his own without a lawyer or immigration consultant. So it was a huge feat. And so growing up in Kuwait was interesting. My mom never worked. They chose to, she chose to stay home and look after us and you know, very lower middle class family.
Summers were spent in the slums of Mumbai. So the benefit of working in Kuwait was, you know, we, although, you know, we were in Kuwait and they weren't very well off, they got free tickets every year for the family round trip to back home. That is the rule in the Middle East. If you work, your employer has to give you round trip tickets to back home.
They couldn't take afford to take us to Europe or anywhere fancy. So every summer was spent in the slums of Mumbai. And what's really interesting is my grandparents had 10 kids. They lived in this, you know, four cement block walls and an aluminum roof. In the slums. There was no toilet. They had to fill water from outside.
And so it's, it's very interesting. I think that was my first experience with the whole concept of community. We're going to the toilet every morning was a communal activity. You stand in line and you're socializing. Filling water was a communal activity. Every maybe 10, 15 homes there had a tv. Now my mom lived in Kuwait so she could bring back a tv and so watching TV was a communal activity, man.
In the summers, the puddles, it would rain a lot. And so puddles would turn into ponds and we'd be swimming in it together. And so that was my experience every summer as a kid. And it was my fondest memory because every time we had to go back to Kuwait at the end of the summer, I'd just grab my parents by their feet and cry and be like, just leave me here.
I don't wanna come to Kuwait. I wanna be here. Now. Fast forward a few years, I think I was. Nine-ish. And I wake up one morning and we had just come back from, from India for, for, from the summer holidays. And I wake up one morning, I think it was August, and my mom says, you can't go to school anymore.
Kuwait has been hit by the Gulf War. I'm like, oh man, I didn't, I couldn't even understand what was happening. My first reaction was, yes, you know what? I don't have to go to school. But then when the reality sank in, I saw worry on their faces. I went down the building with my dad, and you know how in 2023 we look at news and it just negativity, man, it perpetuates and perpetuates and turns into new monsters.
But back then, I think life was much simpler. Everyone knew there was a big problem at hand. Security had lapsed. There was no cell phone or internet. You weren't sure if you're gonna live or die. Your currency's invalid. But people were coming together with solutions, all guard the building from X time to Y time.
I will. You know, organized food supplies. If you have displaced family members, I have a little extra room. Every building became a sub-community that communicated with the next building and the next building over. Word of mouth spread, communicated with embassies, with governments, and it became, I think, the largest grassroots evacuation movements that took people from Kuwait to Baghdad to Jordan, and then to safety.
There was a Bollywood movie made on this called Airlift, which was hugely popular, and a lot of people were saying, oh, this is embellished. I'm like, I lived this journey. In fact, they didn't cover the whole extent of it, but that's, that was an experience. And that experience, Omer, it taught me a few things.
Number one, you know, as I was reflecting back writing the book, then the first thing it taught me was there's no task. There's no task that a group of people that are united. By a common purpose can't achieve, they can move mountains. The second thing it taught me was great leaders cascade purpose. That was a time where Rambo was huge.
I threw a man as a 9-year-old. I threw a red bandana on my head, and I'm running around acting like I am rescuing Kuwait from Sara Hussein. Nobody made me feel like I was an insignificant kid. They let me help. You know what? I almost burned the refugee camp. I almost blew it up accidentally, but nobody, so, you know, every bus had color coded ration, right?
So that means like gasoline was in a black can, water was in a white can, all of this stuff. So as we were loading buses, I was also running alongside helping, and I don't know, I think I dragged a canister from the next bus ration over to hours, and we loaded it. Now I think we get to the Amman camp in Jordan, and my uncle is like six five.
Everyone's tired. We get off and he sets out a bonfire and he's like, let's make tea. That's what brown people do to, to get over tiredness. See, see, they, they, they light up the fire and he lifts this huge canister to pour water. And as he's pouring it, it goes up in flames and people are running and it end up being a canister of gasoline in the white canister.
I will never forget that. Nobody gave me crap for it, man. Great leaders cascade purpose, not goals. And a and a example comes to mind from President Kennedy. He was walking the halls of NASA and at midnight he sees a janitor sweeping the room. So he asked the janitor, what are you doing at this hour? And the janitor says, sir, I'm putting a man on the moon.
That's what great leaders do, man, the cascade purpose, not goals, where the lowest common denominator feels like they're driving it. This 9-year-old felt like he was. You know saving Kuwait from Saddam. And then the third thing it taught me, and, and a lot of people laugh at me when I say this, but it gave me the entrepreneurial spirit.
And and people are like, A war gave you the entrepreneurial spirit, but what is entrepreneurship? Man, we've made it so much about money in this day and age, but the entrepreneurial spirit is nothing but taking an obscure idea to execution and impact while dealing with extreme risk, uncertainty, and ambiguity.
There's no bigger risk and uncertainty than your life on the line. And, and after that incident, I was always on the other side of risk and uncertainty throughout my life.[00:10:52] Omer: That, that's amazing. So e eventually, well first of all, I think that was a pretty tough childhood and, and some really, some difficult experiences to go through that told you some really valuable lessons.
I think it's interesting 'cause you, I think you once told me, I didn't think of them as problems at the time, or it was just. No. Well, it was just another day or something in many ways, right?[00:11:17] Lloyed: I never thought of anything as, as problems. So I'll tell you, Omer, all my life I was piss for, there's many incidents.
I was always happy the one time, which will surprise you, that ended up depressed. And I had mental health issues and I had to seek a shrink. And I've lost myself, was the time when I came in a millions because I felt I lost my tribe. And there's a common thread here, but the, the common thread here is all my life, no matter what the challenge was, there was a group of people I was surrounded with, surrounded by who are always being positive and uplifting me.
And so the biggest challenges didn't feel like challenges. We lost a twin in 2018, while the business was up and down. We were expecting twins. One passed in the womb at five months and we had to pull the other kid out. Like four and a half, five months premature. And she spent that time in the incubator.
We were lost, we were devastated. But my wife relied on the physician's mom's community and they uplifted us and the friends we surrounded ourselves with. And so there's always people, man, because, I don't know, maybe this is true, misery loves company, but nonetheless, when you surround yourself with positive people who are lifting you up, it just doesn't feel difficult, right?
I mean, fast forward a few years after the Gulf War we immigrated to Canada In my, after I finished high school, we ended back in Kuwait. We immigrated to Canada. Now, here's the funny thing. I didn't finish high school. I just missed every high school exam. I didn't, I didn't attend the last semester of high school.
Now what would most kids do if they didn't finish high school? They likely wouldn't apply to university. Now I had brown bear and I'm like, if I don't apply to university, I'm gonna be in trouble. So let me just, let me just play the charade. And this is in Canada so there's no SATs. I applied to every college, every university, man, and, and this will tell you something that lock in risk are two sides of the same coin.
The ones that get lucky are the ones that never stop flipping risk. One university called me and said, write these entrance tests. We saw your previous year's transcripts, they were fine. Write these entrance tests. I wrote them math and English rudimentary ace them them. And they said, Hey, you can start the semester, but we need to see your transcripts.
If you don't get them within this month, you'll have to un-enroll. And I told 'em there's political unrest in Kuwait. I made up some crap and luck would have it. They never followed up, man. I graduated and it with an engineering degree without a high school diploma. My, my, my life has been a series of take risks kind of thing.
This is a funny one though.[00:13:58] Omer: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Let's, let's talk about business, right? So, you know, I wanna kind of get to like how you came up with the idea for Boast AI , and build a business, but this wasn't your first attempt at building a business. Like, you know, often we hear these stories of so and so.
This founder came up with this idea, built this multiple multimillion dollar business, sold it, exited, lived happily ever after. And we often miss all the struggles that they took had to experience to get there. And, and I think that was wasn't any different for you. You had multiple attempts at, at trying to build businesses before you came up with the idea for Boast, right?[00:14:41] Lloyed: Or it was, I would say it was parallel. We did Boast, we did Automatically, which is a chat bot built on top of Zendesk leveraging AI in 20 13, 14. That didn't work. Then I did Speakeasy, which was a company incubated by Bessemer Ventures, where they put together the idea worked out of their offices in parallel.
That Failed Parallel, did an events company because they're like gotta make money. And the third co-founder ran away with all the profits from the first conference, locked us out of our accounts, had to sue him, and then he paid us, you know, after paying lawyer fees, he paid us like 50 K in installments over like four or five months.
It didn't even feel like the money came in the bank account. So there's many things you go through, but I think, you know, paying is the precondition for growth, man. You don't know what you don't know and for fear of the unknown, if you don't attempt, then you'll never know. So you gotta attempt and fail and learn what not to do the next time.
Right. So what was really interesting was we had a very unique path to bootstrapping Boast. We started Boast as a services business, and now I give this advice to everyone. Start by delivering a service versus building a product on day one. Especially with the proliferation of AI and SaaS tool fatigue.
Customers want an outcome. They don't just want software. I don't want a gym membership or a gym app. I want to get a six pack. I don't want the next freaking AI driven marketing automation software. I want more leads. So customers want an outcome. The thing is, we had no money Omer. We literally had no money, and this is like bootstrapping in the true sense.
We had no money, so we had to Wizard of Oz, sdi. We called customers, sold them on the vision, and then delivered the service manually. When we delivered the service manually, we understood a few things. One, how to sell it, and the messaging to customer success because you can't, when you're delivering a service.
You can't hide behind buttons and toggles and onboarding excuses. Customers want an outcome. Our outcome is we give you cash, right? And you pay us. Right? No outcome, no customer. The third thing, it helped us understand exactly what to build. 'cause we nail down the process, right? It was like, okay, we're collecting data manually, then what are we doing?
We're reviewing the data, we're analyzing it, then we're doing workflow on it, like filling forms and everything. Okay, this data collection is taking a long time. Let's pull it through APIs. What's the next step? We need to normalize this data because there's unstructured data, which we're pulling from technical systems like Jira and GitHub, and there's structured data like zeros and ones from their payroll and accounting systems.
Now we normalize that. Then we gotta analyze it and see where it goes. And then the last step is workflow, filling forms, OCR, all of that stuff. But we understood the process so well. That we could build the automation. I think when we were a million or so in revenue, our first version of the software was actually using Zoho creator, which is a no-code platform.
Back in the day we used this term, no-code now, but there was no code back then or low-code. Zoho creator was a low-code platform and we leveraged Zapier, Zoho creator, plus Zapier got us to millions in revenue and then we transitioned to our own platform from the ground up, right? We also had early access to open AI in 20, late 2019.
So that was the journey, delivering a service manually to understand the workflow, then digitizing that workflow and in parallel we were building a community to get customers.[00:18:28] Omer: So let's talk about getting customers. I know you initially were spending a lot of time on cold out cold email outreach to find customers.
How, how, how did that work out for you?[00:18:42] Lloyed: You know, so it's funny, I graduated engineering, right? The first job I took was in sales. And it's the funniest thing. You'll, you'll appreciate this being of the same ethnicity. My parents lost it. They're like, your friends are working at Microsoft and Johnson and Johnson.
You're being cold calling. So what happened was, I wanted to be in businessman from, from the, from the get go. I don't wanna do a nine to five job. So I asked a bunch of people, what's the best skill I can learn if I wanted to be an entrepreneur or business person someday? And they said, man, your communication kind of sucks, so you need to fix that.
And, and I'm like, you know what? I'm not a self-motivated individual. So self-motivation is not living on the beach in Dubai and showing up. It's like when you're punched repeatedly in the face, can you show up? And I said, if I take a public speaking class, the chances of me. Showing up. If five people laugh, me off stage is like zero, I'm just gonna bail.
So I started applying to sales jobs because I knew that, you know what, if self, if you don't have the self-motivation, then put yourself in an environment that forces you to do that something over and over again. So I started applying to sales jobs. Nobody would give me a sales job. I got lucky in the sense one founder, telecom startup founder needed a cold caller, put me on the cold calling team, and that was my experience.
And then, because I worked for a startup doing cold calls, then my, my wife girlfriend, then got into medical school in New Jersey. I hadn't moved to New Jersey. I started applying to jobs. No big company would give me a job. I got a job in sales at another startup and then transitioned from there into head of sales and marketing.
So that was my experience. I, I lucked into selling and because my first job was at a startup, I just worked for startups. And so, you know, this tells you a lot about, one thing is you become the average of the five people you surround yourself with. I had the good fortune. Of working closely or alongside founders where I was not severely removed from the founder.
And so when Alex Poppa, my co-founder, who was my best friend in university, called me with the opportunity to start Boast, I jumped at it because, you know, I'd been, I experienced the risk of, of starting companies and, and he's an engineer, but he also studied accounting. So he had this unique perspective on the RD tax credit and RD incentive space because he was working for a big four accounting firm.
And he's like, man, it's so manual, it's so broken. These guys make hundreds of millions of dollars doing this manually. There has to be a better way. And I, and I jumped at the opportunity. Now what happens when you start something Omer is you rely on your experience, right? My experience was cold calling and emailing and sales.
But when you're repeatedly punched in the face, your reflexes kick in. My reflex I didn't realize was community building from my childhood. And so I picked up the phone and the first thing it did was called manufacturing and construction and oil and gas, like the big companies, the stable companies. And nobody would talk to us, man.
Like it sounds a bit scammy, right? If you get a call saying, Hey, give us your product development data and your IP and we'll get you money from the government. No interest, no equities, the best form of capital you don't have to return. It sounds scammy. And then on top of that, if they were, if they knew about it, they were working with large accounting firms already doing it.
So dejected, we start hitting their events, manufacturing, oil and gas construction. We just couldn't vibe with them. We looked like two kids who threw on a suit jacket on top of a hoodie and they were the cigars club. There's no resignation. So super dejected started looking up all the startup events in the region and we go to a startup event and we felt like we found our tribe very instantly.
They were starting a company. We were starting our company. Great comradery. Those initial conversations turned into friendships, into lunches, into dinners, into partying and socializing. We started hosting events together and hackathons together, just, we were just basically eating, breathing, drinking, sleeping where they were.
And now when I look back, man, when, when, when you're in it, it's like throwing spaghetti on the wall. Oh, God, let something, let something work. But when you're looking back, when you found some success, it's a framework. And my framework number one, is if you're trying to figure out a market, you need four things.
One, do you love this market or do you have a passion for it? For the market or the audience? Building a company or anything worth doing is a long slog. You won't be able to sustain if you hate your audience or your customers, right? I mean, look at you. How long have you been doing this? Like. Seven, 10 years.
Nine years. Yeah, nine years. See, if you hated this audience, would you be able to wake up? Probably not. Never. Never. The the next thing is is it a small but growing niche? I like to niche down in the early days because man, it's better to be an inch wire and a mile deep. Otherwise you're trying to be too many things to too many people.
And in the early days you just need one beachhead. So we niched down as much as possible and Alex was living in Calgary at the time, although I was in San Francisco. I moved into his apartment, spare bedroom in Calgary. And so it was like startup founders in Calgary. That was our initial niche down market.
Third is propensity to pay for us, it was easy that, you know, we get paid when they get paid anyway. And the last one is ease of access. This ease of access is really important. A lot of the times as founders, we bang our heads on large markets that we can't access and then we run outta steam in the beginning.
You just need a beachhead. Do I have a passion for this audience? Is it a small hitch? Ken, Dave Hay, and is there ease of access? So we found all of that with the startup market. And what was really interesting was because it was a small niche, we found two white spaces. One, no media was covering startups in the region at the time.
And two, all the events that were happening were high level CEO platitudes. Podcasting wasn't huge for business in 2012, neither was like LinkedIn as a source of business content, tactical business content. What was happening a lot was influencers like Jason Fried and Neil Patel and them we're blogging a lot.
So we're like, if we start a blog, no one's gonna read our blog. We're not gonna get the SEO. So the two white spaces are, the media is not covering startups in this region, and all the events are high level CEO platitudes. But if I've started a company and quit my job, I don't need inspiration. I need tactics.
How do I get my first X customers? How do I get my investment, et cetera. So what we did was we did two things. We had a free coworking space. So we started hosting regular weekly meetups there with tactical advice. See, we understood the ICP really well, right? Where they eat, breathe, drink, sleep. What are the pains and goals?
Pains and goals are short-lived. So you also gotta understand the aspiration, right? Like with every SaaS company that hits a hundred million, they have multiple products. The customer's aspiration gives you your next few products. The pain and goal gives you the immediate, and then we understood what stood in their way.
Then we understood their circle of influence. And I think this is super key. Circle of influence means who are the influencers they, who they follow and they listen to. 'cause those are the people you could invite on your podcast or a speakers to your event. Who are the people they fund? Meaning what are the tools, services they pay for?
Those are the people you can reach out to, to co-host, events, partners, sponsors. So you get their social proof. And the last one is, where are they frequent? Meaning what blogs, what magazines they read, what podcasts, what platforms they're prevalent on so you can distribute your content there. So those, those things we understood really well.
And so we started hosting weekly meetups, man, like, it's like, Hey, Omer, I'm inviting Jason Lemkin to talk about how he got his first 10 enterprise customers free pizza at the coworking space, 10 spots, would love to see you join. And when you hear a message like that, that's private, you are going to show up.
Right? Right, right. And so we just never stopped. We kept doing it and doing it and doing it, and then we reached out to the local press and we asked them to cover startups and the local newspaper said, no, it's not even a priority. I didn't take that as a rejection. I reached out to a regional blog. I'm like, let me cover startups in this region.
They said, fine, we'll give you a post. They gave me a post covered two or three startups, and I didn't stop there. See, a lot of us, what we do is we post content on channels and we don't distribute it. The channel's not going to drive you distribution immediately. You're gonna have to seed it. So I reached out to everyone in my contact list to retweet.
Twitter was huge at the time. It got so much traction that I went back to the newspaper. I wanted to be in the newspaper, and I said, see how much traction this has gotten? You're losing the younger demographic by covering startups. You'll get this demographic. Otherwise, the newspaper is a dying medium for the younger audience.
He's like, fine, I'm gonna give you a blog post. I understand, like this has got a lot of traffic. This regional blog, a blog post. Now, another lesson here is, unless you're doing something illegal, as a founder, beg for forgiveness, don't ask for permission. Right. So we call that blog post startup of the week, and we covered a founder that got 3 million in funding and wasn't able to get TechCrunch.
He blew it up and we also reached out to our whole like, you know, phone list, go on WhatsApp, go on contact list, on email, LinkedIn, and just asked everyone to retweet it. It blew up and now I'm getting missed calls from the editor. I'm like, oh, he's gonna be pissed. He pick up the phone. Finally, I call, I call, I pick up the phone and he's like, man, that was really good.
If you commit to writing it every week, I'll give you a print column. And that print column gave us two guys who are, you know, our business is all about credibility, man. We're taking people's IP and RD data, so give us instant credibility even in 2023 when vlogs are so huge. If you are in the print of a newspaper, you will print it out, right?
That's, that's, that's the reality. My mind totally still prints out when I'm in the papers, right? And it sticks it on the wall. So every, every week these founders were going and printing out or buying newspapers from the stand at seven, eight in the morning and sharing clippings of it. I also got a weekly back link for my website for the anchor texted keyword that I wanted from the largest domain authority website in the country.
It's the newspaper. What is, what ha. The government side is bigger domain authority. So our SEO started to jump, right? And then we put a form in there that said, if you want to be featured, apply. So the new the newspaper weekly started with the week was building our audience. But in order to turn that audience into a community, I needed to collect email addresses and that form gave us people's email addresses.
And now what I did was I have this online audience building, we'd invite them to come to our weekly meetups. With influencers for them who would talk and share tactical advice. And so the community started growing and we started getting their social proof. And that led to several of our clients referrals partners.
And in fact, to this day, man, our salespeople are glorified community managers. They go out there and shake hands and kiss babies and basically add value in the community, right? And we're seen as the community guys, but a lot of like our, our, our stuff comes from partnerships and referrals. And then over time we added SDRs and, and so on.
But that got us to a large chunk of our revenue. In fact, some of our partners, you know, we have one partner that we white label for in the US that came through the community, and that's 3 million in revenue with us. How insane is that? Our, the, the firm that bought 52% of the company came to a community event we hosted.
And then reached out saying, Hey do you, would you be interested in joining our venture partner network? We'll give you carry in the deal flow. And I'm like, I got a business to run. They're like, our community's called Traction and we host a big conference in Vancouver podcast, et cetera, but a lot of meetups back in the day.
And I said, listen, I have a business to run. And they're like, is traction not your business? I'm like, no, it's a community give back thing we do. And they asked, what's your business? And I explained the business and they asked me, what's the gross margin? I'm like, 80%. And how many people do you have? And this is, we're like, we're north of five now.
I said, we're 30 people. Like what's your CAC payback period? I'm like, what? CAC Payback. Period. We do these events and we get customers. There's no marketing team here, man. The term sheet followed literally after that. And we[00:31:17] Omer: didn't wanna, and they, you through one of the events, [00:31:19] Lloyed: they literally came to an event.
Which, you know, I talked the fund follow frequent model. One of the, our partners, right. Brought them and recommended them as a panelist for a panel we were running and, and a partner that, you know, helps other startup founders as well. And they literally came as a speaker and they're like, who runs this event?
They said, Lloyd, who manages this? And then they reached out. So that is the power of community to me, man. I'm, everything I am, I have every single thing I have because of the community. I live in Dubai now, and I kid you not more than 50% of the key influential people I've met here is because of that community.
At the last conference when I said I'm moving to Dubai, a number of community members made connections for me in Dubai, which is great, but the community now today is 120 some odd and change subscribers. It's funny because we entered the pandemic with about 30,000 and change subscribers, and I freaked out during the pandemic freaked out because we're largely an event-driven lead generation machine, and we had a big conference planned and we had to cancel it, and I couldn't bring myself to do a two day virtual summit because I'm like, I can't sit through it.
So just happenstance, reached out to all the speakers and they, I, I said, would you be interested in doing a live a MA twice a week? It started as once a week and then it moved to twice a week, and they said, yeah, one hour. And now we got like 500 to a thousand people joining this. And we didn't stop. Like basically the, the meetups we used to do weekly got taken over by these live ammas, started with once a week, then moved to twice a week, and we kept doing it and doing it and doing it, and more and more people would show up.
And we've had like Jeff Lawson and Sri Mbu and. Jason Lemkin, and you name it, like the who's who of of B2B SaaS, come on these webinars. And it drove us leads and social proof. Now, when I think back though, you know, it, it looks like a framework, right? It's, it's like the perfect near Elle's hooked framework.
You have a trigger and external trigger that motivates people to take action. Now, when they take action, it's a variable reward. If it's the same reward, then it's like people know what to expect, right? It's like one week it's Jeff Lawson. One week it's Reer Bamboo. Next week it's Omer, like it's somebody or the other, and it's a new topic.
Otherwise, for six months you're promoting the conference. Buy my tickets, buy my tickets, buy my tickets. So that worked out really well. 'cause speakers started sharing it, community members started sharing it, and we started getting a huge audience. And I think in two years we went from 30,000 in some change to 120,000 subscribers.
Now, over time, we've, we've added SDRs as well, but my job as a founder was always reinventing my job in the job, meaning. I never had a team. I was a solo guy, right? And I think in many ways a founder and CEO are two separate roles. A job of A CEO is to stabilize the business, which was my co-founder Alex.
I was founder, president, and my job was to inject new risks in the business, new products, new technologies, new markets, new channels kind of thing. And that was fun for me. Like I was our first salesperson in each market. I tested every marketing channel. I tested the partnership model. I tested the community model.
When it was time to test out SDRs, I, I was our first SS DR In six to seven months, I signed the equivalent of one AE just by cold emailing. And then I said, okay, you know what? Let's hire SDRs. So it was very fun for me, and I think every company needs that.[00:35:04] Omer: So initially when you were starting Boast, you were.
Trying to use cold outreach, the things that you'd been learning as a sales guy that wasn't working. So then you went out and said, let's, let's start doing these meetups. And then ultimately this grew into this, this massive community. What, what specifically were you doing once you were turning, you know, you taking this audience and, and turning them into this, this community again, attendees, these meetups.
What specifically were you doing to turn them into customers for Boast? Like did you have to do much of a sell at these events or just the fact that you were running the events and, and, you know, people would come along and, and kind of not be curious about, you know, what boat was like. I'm just curious, like, how, how did you make that connection between turning this community into actual customers?[00:36:05] Lloyed: You know, most people are super shy. They give, give, give, but never ask as a function of bringing all these influencers. And these were small group settings. They weren't thousand people events. They were 10, 15, 20 people events. And so we would just ask, man, hey, you're spending money on product development, would you be interested in exploring our solution?
And they were like, yeah, you're adding so much value to us. Why won't we work with you? Like there are people who literally, as a function of us doing these events would say, because of you, I've met my investor, or I've met my advisor or angel investor or met some connection to an employee. We never get that from a big four consulting firm who just cares about the transaction and not actually delivering us value.
So we're just gonna switch to you. It was just asking it. It genuinely, people miss this step. They think like, we should just do charity forever. Community is about value exchange. It's visibility, credibility, and then profitability. It doesn't mean like. You never become profitable. You have to ask, and I think there's a tasteful way of asking, which integrates in their business, right?
As a consultative process, you're trying to understand their pains and make connections for them. And they're like, Hey, you're spending so much money in RD. Are you getting any rebates from the government for it? They're like, yeah, we're working at so and so. Would you be interested in seeing how we can do better for you?
Very simple, right? It's not like salesy. And so that's the, that's the process we employed, which, which has worked really well. And also the partnerships because we would co-host events or bring on like sponsors who then would become, refer us business ultimately for partnerships. What do people want?
They want your audience. If you host an event and you see they see people coming, they know that they can sell to them too, and then you build these friendships over time. The other thing I realized, man, is a lot of what we do online leaves a lot to be desired in terms of bond building. Anytime you do in-person activity, you are incorporating and engaging more than two senses.
We're now sound in sight in-person or taste, touch and smell. And people stay longer, they build more friendships, they get to know each other better. And over time, done on a cadence, it really strengthens bonds. I'll tell, I'll give you the example. We kept doing these 10, 15, 20% meetups and one day 200 people showed up to the coworking space and we did this event.
Now we had to bring a makeshift projector from the Sound Studio host somewhere down the street and you know, rent out speakers and hijack all the aisles in the coworking space. And the guys running the coworking space are like, listen, now this has turned into a full blown conference. It's not a beat up with pizza.
I. So you can't do this scale here anymore. And that evolved into us doing conferences. It evolved into what today is the Traction conference. And we've had the C CEOs of Uber and Atlassian and Twilio, et cetera. But it was the customer poll. But honestly then most people don't ask, this is what I'm really surprised in, in community building.
They think they should do charity forever, or they think that, oh, asking makes them look bad. There's a tasteful way of asking and it's very simple. And if they say no, no means no. You don't have to jab it down their throat.[00:39:25] Omer: Yeah, that's a great way to think about it. So let's go back to the, I think it was a private equity thing we talked about in this term sheet coming along.
I think you said you were about 5 million in ARR?[00:39:37] Lloyed: Yeah, when we signed, we were 5 million when we signed the term sheet. And very quickly, because I guess because it was a pandemic and we were doing so much online activity. And, you know, during the pandemic, everyone needs government money. I think that year we closed like touch shy of 10 or just at 10 basically.
It was very interesting. It was a fast growth in like a, a, a few months that happened.[00:39:58] Omer: So the business is getting traction, it's growing faster, and then you start hiring people and bringing in more senior executives into the company in, in many ways that that's a logical thing to do. It makes sense, right?
But for you, it was also a, a big moment where you questioned everything that you, you were doing at that point.[00:40:23] Lloyed: Right. You know what's really funny for a founder, especially Bootstrap founder, we're too emotionally attached to the business. And I don't know if that's a good thing or bad. Definitely as you scale it may not be the best thing.
So what happened was this deal went through. Right. And it takes the life outta you, man, because imagine we had no, like glorious systems like Salesforce. We were running a lot from the database and all the leads were sitting in Google Sheets and, and so we had to pull a lot of stuff together. It elongated the DD process.
And nonetheless, you know, I became a little bit insufferable at home. See, I sacrificed all my life chasing society's definition of success. Which is what? Which is money. And I hadn't spent any time with my family, like my wife. I had two kids at the time, two girls, never spent any time with them. My wife would always joke, they're gonna call you uncle.
Like literally, they don't even know you exist. Vacations. You're on the laptop. Like, why do you even come? And then this deal got us super busy and I'm like 24 7. And my wife's like, stop to smell the roses. I'd say, listen, let the deal go through. We'll book everyone to Bora Bora, our family's, everyone.
We'll take everyone to Bora Bora. And she's like, nobody cares about your Bora Bora man. They care. The kids are gonna remember all the time you didn't spend with them when you were on your phone during dinner or missing from dinner. Not the Bora Bora once a year. They don't remember that. Nonetheless, I just ignored and barreled through the deal, went through, booked everyone to Bora Bora.
Two days before Bora Bora, I got hospitalized with bilateral covid pneumonia. My lungs are shot. I'm lying in the hospital on oxygen. My wife being a doctor at the same hospital, Stanford is not allowed to see me. They set up a 24 7 Zoom people coming in, in spacesuits. This is January 2nd or third. Second 2021.
Right, Omicron. Wow. And I'm getting delirious. I'm like, what the hell is going on? I can't breathe. That's so painful. And there's only one side in my mind. I'm like, what have I done? I chased for the last 10 years doing startup after startup, trying to make a go. And now finally, I felt like I've made some money and if I die today, I don't even get to see any of it.
Right? What, what's the irony here? And I, I, I just cried, man in the hospital and I'm like, you know what? If I could change things, if I could go back in time, I would spend more time with my family. But Omer, old habits die very hard. We say a lot of things that we don't keep, and I think there was a media interview where I said the same thing, and then I came from the hospital.
Of course, the investors also kind of gonna freak out, right? This guy's the face of the company. If he's gonna tap out, what's gonna happen? Single point of failure. I heard this a lot because I was running marketing and product and partnerships, and I was everywhere. So it doesn't scale, right? Like, yes, that me as a role doesn't scale.
So the recommendation was to break up my roles, you know, bring in C-T-O-C-P, OCMO, all this stuff. Now of course, time is rolling in. We've hired a lot of big company execs, the Navy. I'm not jelling like, let's be frank, I'm a pirate. I'm used to doing things myself, and now I'm seeing processes being put in, hiring people to hire people to do the job.
And I'm losing my mind here. And now I think we've gone from January to August and the company has gone from like 30 ish people to almost 120, 130 people in. Like that time is, it's a very rapid ramp for a bootstrap company, right? Yeah. And August of 21 rolls around my 9-year-old who was seven and a half of the time comes to me and says, dad, everything you said was a lie.
I'm like, what do you mean? Wow. You said, you said you'd spend more time with us. If something happened to you that would be your biggest regret. And I said, sweetie, I don't even know what I do in the company anymore. Like there are so many people, we need to make sure the company's on the right track. So their faith in us is made whole.
And she says, dad, why don't you go and work for somebody who thinks like you? So I can have my dad back. Man, this is a seven and a half year old kid telling you this. It broke my heart, but you know what? I slept over it. And you know, you know, I sound like a for saying this, but I slept over it and, you know, barrel through.
Couple weeks later, I'm at an offsite with my co-founder, Alex in Austin. And my phone's always down like this. And many hours later I pick up the phone. There's like 20 some odd missed calls. It's my wife's best friend and the first thing she tells me is like, you, you've done this for the third time.
I'm like, what's happening? She's like, your wife's in labor for your third kid and there's no sign of you. Like, where the hell are you? And I'm like, I'm in Austin. She's like, take the next immediate flight, like whatever you can get and come here right now. And there's no planes until next morning. So I take the first flight in the morning, and I think within an hour of, of getting to the hospital at Stanford, my son was more like, I I within an hour of me getting there.
And then now I'm stressed, man. I'm, I'm like losing my mind. What all's happening? Change in personal life change in the business. Covid like literally destroyed me. I had this long form covid, I had become overweight from all the steroids that pump into you. I go into a board meeting and I lose my mind.
I'm like, listen, all these execs suck. You're gonna fire all of them. Like, these guys aren't useless. And they're like, whoa, whoa, whoa, bro. Like, God, I'm out. Listen, right? You guys willed this through existence, but now we gotta bring in the Navy to scale it and I'm not having any of it. And, and they're like, listen, you've had a very stressful year, Lloyd.
Why don't you take a six month paternity leave and we'll figure out the right role for you when you're back? And, and this is gonna sound very selfish of me, but this is how most founders think. There was no personal downfall that I experienced, and this is very bad because of what I told you, the things I've gone through.
There was no personal downfall I experienced that hit me harder than that comment. And I went home and I hugged my wife. And I cried for 10 minutes and I said, Vivi, I'm really sorry for every time you needed me. And I put the company first. Today, the company doesn't need me, and you are the only person standing here.
See, it would build a very community led business. You know, every year we take the company to Cabo Costa Rica, Hawaii. We do big conferences, events. I felt like I lo I was gonna lose my tribe, and that drove me into depression and lost, and I face planted and I just went mad. Right? And it's funny because I had never seen money before then.
So first time I see so much money and rather than enjoying it, I go crazy. And I think things came to a head in my life when I was invited to speak at a conference in Romania. And now we're at the speaker retreat, text Sylvania speaker retreat after the conference in Buchar, somewhere like three hours from Eucharist airport.
In the wilderness. And at two in the morning, I'm frantically dialing for an Uber or car or whatever. Nobody's coming. And they're like, what's wrong with you? What are you, why are you doing this? And I'm just ignoring everyone. Finally like 20 minutes in, the Uber goes to dinging and then 20 minutes later an Uber comes, I pull my bags, I'm literally on the hood of the car and I book a flight to Costa Rica and I said, guys, I'm leaving to Costa Rica.
'cause some friends called me. I literally went crazy 'cause I thought I'd lost my tribe. And I was just going from place to place to place, blowing up money, trying to catch up with with my tribe. And then when I got back from the trip, my wife looks at me and she's like, Lloyd, look at you. You're becoming insufferable.
You're overweight significantly. And if something happens to you, you're not gonna get a third chance. After covid, your kids are gonna be left holding the bag. Is that what you want? Like you're so fortunate. You can move anywhere. You can do anything. They brought in new people to run the company. You have a board seat, you cashed out, you still own a big chunk of the company while somebody else is running it.
What do you want? Right? Like, there couldn't be a better outcome, but you're moping about something. You don't have the glasses half full, and I worry that you will kill yourself doing this and will be left holding the bag. And we've been holding the bag for way too long. And that was a wake up call for me.
And then I started, you know, relying on, it's funny, I, I found my Peloton bike hopped on the Peloton bike, but I turned into a clothing rack and felt an instant connection with the, with the instructor. And she was coming off a tough time in life. And so we felt quite connected. Then I joined the fitness community and, and literally it was the community that brought me back to good health surrounding myself with positive people.
That was, that was it. Was it, I spend most of my time now with people who work out and or positive thinkers, and they start their day by physical activity. So that is the moral of the story, man. Like, life and business is a marathon. It's not a sprint. If you sprint a marathon, you'll die. And if you burn out, you're of no good to your family or your business.
So self-care is not selfish. It's your oxygen mask first. Yeah, completely.[00:50:30] Omer: This, I mean, this was obviously a, a really tough moment, and I think in many ways it's because every founder, I think, knows this, that it's so difficult to get to an idea into a business and to get traction and customers and, and you, you have such a connection to it, it's your baby.
And then, you know, once I suddenly goes, it's like, what, what the hell do you do? I, I spoke to a founder a couple of weeks ago who sold his company to Google. And was completely kind of lost and disillusioned by, by the experience where we all imagine, you know, you have a great exit and, and things are, life is good.
And he said to himself, I'm not sure what business I'm gonna start next, but whatever it is, I'm gonna make sure that I'm able to work on it for at least a decade, rather than just going out and doing the quick sell. Because you realize the, the, the process, the journey was just as important as, you know, maybe more important than the outcome of, you know, an exit or, or money or, or whatever.[00:51:41] Lloyed: I'm gonna, I wanna add one to that because you said journey more important than the destination. I've realized through all the ups and downs in my life now that it's neither the destination nor the journey, but the companions that matter the most who you're with could make you feel like a peasant or like a rockstar.
So, you know, it's funny is I, I go back to. The Gulf War. I was a refugee on this rickety bus going from Kuwait to Baghdad to Jordan Highway of death. You can Google and see. Buses were bombed. People weren't sure they were gonna live or die. Currencies invalid. You don't know where you're gonna land and when.
But the adults and the bus man, there was one thing that was constant. They're laughing and singing and playing the guitar. And I'm like, what is going on here? Are they faking it? Like, what is going on? And I realized, man, it's neither the destination nor the journey, but the companions that matter the most.
You can be on a crappy journey on the way to hell. But great companions will make it memorable. And, and I've come to realize that now. Right. And so one of the reasons why I left San Francisco Bay Area is because everyone around me was giving me the feeling that to fill this void, I need to start another company and go on this journey.
And then I went and saw Shrink who opened my mind, and he said, why? Is there a problem you're really passionate about? I said, no. Is there an immediate need to do something? Like, you know, is money holding you back? I'm like, none of that. So he's like, okay, you go on this journey for another 10 years and you have this extreme founder like personality, which most founders, a lot of founders do.
What happens? You go on another journey for 10 years, say you may build a unicorn. Same, you may not, but what happens personally? Like what happens with your daughter? I'm like, my daughter's now 19, 20 maybe, and she probably hates her dad and I have no relationship with her. He basically helped me internalize this and I realized I gotta, I gotta get out of an environment and move to one where people think about working life differently, where people work to live and not the other way around.
This time on earth is very limited and you know, I gotta really find joy. I. And other things like, like family and the people who care for me who've sacrificed for me to get to here.[00:54:02] Omer: So that insight that you had where you said it's not so, it's not about the, the journey or the destination, it's more about who you're with.
I think that was a big insight, which ultimately connected you back to so many different experiences with community and, and led you, I, I guess to, to writing the book. Right. So let's talk about that.[00:54:22] Lloyed: Definitely. So, it's, it's funny because, you know, I didn't talk about, there was one life experience that drove me a lot.
So my, my wife got into med school in second year of undergrad with our MCATs. Brilliant, brilliant. One of the smartest people I know. I was a bumbling idiot. Jumping from startup to startup to startup. We were to get married in 2008 and a few weeks before the wedding, the company I was at shut down 2008 recession.
As a function, we were to have this massive wedding in India. And I, I tell the story by starting with, I spent my honeymoon in Thailand with my best man two days before the wedding. My wedding was called off and the message relayed is, you know, daughter is a brilliant doctor, gonna make lots and lots of money.
This person apparently, you know, made it through university, doesn't have a master's degree, is into all kinds of things that are weird to us. We don't think he's, we think he's just gonna be a leach off our daughter kind of thing. That was a message conveyed to my parents, you know, brown parents, like traditional Indian, first generation Indian.
And it was a very traumatizing experience for my mother because she asked me one question that day, did I make a mistake giving up my career to stay at home and raise you? Was that a mistake? That one question Omer drove the next 12 years of my life, every time there was a hardship or some failure or business not working, that question come in my mind.
Did I give up my career to raise you and make a mistake? Right? And I, and I, and I truly believe this, a lot of entrepreneurs are driven by some pain or suffering or some desire to prove the naysayers wrong, to change the status quo. It's very hard for happy people to drive change, I find, because you, you need some something that burns you.
And this was my, my burning desire, frustration. And so failure after failure, after failure, just wanted to push through. And then when this money came, I really didn't get the opportunity to even process it because I ended up with covid and the tumultuous situations that followed, right. And I found myself out of the company.
And so I felt like even though, even though this, this money happened, I still didn't do justice. And I said, you know what? I'm gonna write a book for mom, right? I'm gonna write a book. When I came into good health and had all this freedom, I'm gonna write a book, but I didn't have the subject. I'm like, what am I gonna write about?
And so in my times of depression, when I started to reflect back, I'm like, the common theme in my life is community. And I started to research more. I found that loneliness is the number one killer in America. There's this concept of blue zones, which are the five places around the world where people live functionally.
So functionality is important to longevity, right? Otherwise, what does it matter? They live functionally to 104 or five of their nine traits have to do with human to human connection. And then I started looking at all like rewatching all our traction videos or podcasts. Talking to community members. I think the count may have been a thousand, like I just called people, talked to them, events, yada.
And then started looking behind the scenes and researching all these generational, iconic brands like Harley Davidson. and Apple. I found something very interesting, which forced me to then write the book, the book I wanted to write for mom but the subject I didn't have. And, and I found something very interesting that every obscure idea that eventually became an enduring global phenomena from Christ to CrossFit went through the exact same four stages.
People listen to you. You have an audience. You bring that audience together to interact with one another. It turns into a community when that happens at a repeated cadence. Now, when that community comes together to create impact towards a purpose that's greater than your product or your profit. It becomes a movement.
And when that movement has undying faith in that purpose through sustained rituals over time, it becomes a cult or a religion. So, audience, community, movement, religion, I kept stumbling on that over and over again as a common theme and community being the springboard that takes an audience to eventually becoming a cult, because you really can't become a cult like brand if you don't bring people together to interact with one another kind of thing.
There has to be something that, that brings people together. Otherwise, it's just one directional communication. So I decided to write the book on on community, and my goal was, you know, make it a Wall Street Journal bestseller at the very least, or some kind of bestseller so I can gift the hard copy one, which, which I'm holding here, which says Wall Street General Bestseller, which happened literally a week after launch.
Launch week. We sold 7,300 copies, or 7,300 and some change. And give this to mom and say, you know what? You didn't make a mistake giving up your job to raise me. I may not, I may have finagled my way to engineering, not have high school diploma, no master's degree, but some smart people in the world are reading the book.
And so mom's coming on Saturday. And so this is the gift. For, honestly, this whole quest was, was for her. And I, I think, you know, I'm actually very thankful for that incident. That incident gave me a couple things. One, every incident actually can give you bad things if you latch onto it. But it gives you a lot of good things.
Like the Gulf War taught me the power of community and, and purpose and the entrepreneurial spirit. That particular incident taught me two things. It gave me a fire that I need to prove this wrong, and I'm not gonna stop unless I prove it wrong. The second thing, which interestingly, it taught me a little bit about community too, because after that incident, and my wife and I, nine months later did end up getting married, right?
We moved to the states, we moved back to the states and common sense prevails, right? When you're in a pot boiler in India, in a village and everyone's trying to instigate you, or the boy doesn't have a job, he is a loser, yada, things blow out. So nine months later we, we got married and my wife's like, I'm not gonna plan another wedding.
I'm in residency. My, I'm mind deaf. I don't wanna do this. So I planned her dream wedding. Literally, I organized like, you know how our weddings are like, and we're, we're Catholic, but we also have Indian roots. So it's like a mix, right? Like there's dancers and there's donley, there's the, the, the church wedding as well.
I planned it end to end. Meticulously with no help from anyone because I was so paranoid something would go wrong. So I managed everything myself and I was the event coordinator at our wedding behind the scenes. Like, you know, and when you plan a 400% Indian wedding, you can plan any number of events.
Yeah. And what is the key to building community, bringing people together, hosting events. So honestly, it was a very positive experience and I, I think everyone should, should take away the positive they can walk away with.[01:01:47] Omer: Love it. Love it. So the book is called From Grassroots to Greatness, 13 Rules to Build Iconic Brands With Community LED Growth.
And your mom's gonna get a copy of that very soon. And you also got Jason Lemkin to write the Forward. Now your mom probably doesn't know who Jason is or Caress, but in our world, you know, that's pretty awesome that, that he did that.[01:02:09] Lloyed: He's a, he is a long standing silent mentor of mine and it's funny. I cold emailed him many, many years ago to come and moderate a session at our first or second traction conference in ssf.
And you know, finally I called, emailed and said, Hey, would you moderate a session with Ryan Smith of Qualtrics? And he's like, he came in the conference. He's like, how did you out of nowhere get all these big name speakers? And basically we built a relationship as, as me being one that I'll follow through.
And then the following year, I think he was trying to host an event a side event at Saster, and I think it was 20 16. He was trying to host a side event sales and marketing side event at Saster. And the organizer fell through last minute. So I took that on and just organized it for him. And then we built a good relationship.
He's given us free boots at Saster, the one part, one or two big partners, clients came out of it. And very recently, he brought me onto the board of one of his companies because he was having bandwidth issues. So he's been very, very gracious. I've learned a lot from him, and he's been sort of a informal mentor of mine as he is to so many other people.[01:03:19] Omer: That's awesome. All right. Let's let's wrap up. I've got the lightning round. I've got seven quick fire questions for you. You ready? Yes. What's one of the best pieces of business advice you've received? [01:03:30] Lloyed: I would say Jason Lumpkin's advice and it's in the forward. Consistency is the secret ingredient that turns small actions into big outcomes.
And just to quickly expand on that, as I look back at my journey, there were four things, and I think these four things are important to everyone. One is community or your companions. The first C, the second C is your ability to communicate. If you can't communicate, you don't have an audience, you have an empty room, right from convincing your spouse.
That you're not gonna bring money to customers when you have no product to employees when you have no money. And even as you scale, it's all communication. The third is creation. Whether you're creating content or podcasts or products, or even playbooks, it's all creation. And the fourth C, without which you have nothing, you may be the best creator, the best communicator, and have the best community.
But if you don't have the sports C, you will fail. It's consistency from Jason Lemkin to Mr. Beast, to Warren Buffett, to Elon Musk. They never stop.[01:04:32] Omer: Love it. That's awesome. What book would you recommend to our audience and why? [01:04:36] Lloyed: You know, so I don't read a lot of books. Everything I learned was referencing and audio books.
It's just been very hard for me, not a reading disability of some sort. Growing up, even writing this book was very hard. So when I tell you a book or two, it's gonna be a good one. I like How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Spin Selling by Neil Rackham. I love that. So spin stands for situation problem implication.
Need payoff. It's a questioning framework for consultative selling. But this is how I used it. I used it to validate the market with early customers, right? Ask them the current situation. Have they ever experienced a problem? What is the implication of the problem? And then if they had a magic wand, how would they solve it?
That would give me a lot of customer development feedback in the early days. So that spin selling is a good one, obviously. Awesome book on positioning by April Dunford is is also a good one. And then on communication Made to Sick,[01:05:31] Omer: those, those are great recommendations. What's one attribute or characteristic in your mind of a successful founder? [01:05:37] Lloyed: Consistency man. Like literally, we are always looking for shiny objects or the outsiders are. Yeah, but it's boring stuff. Literally day in, day out, we didn't have any silver bullets. For the longest time. Literally it was make customers happy, host more events. We didn't do hundreds of things. It was literally, and we didn't have the liberty to, right, and, and then we started adding channels.
You know, I think startups are built in phases, right? Phase one is validation. What are you aiming for in validation? Do I have the ICPI, ideal customer profile made nailed? Is my message resonating with the ICP? And then can I get few people to pay me to try it out? Then product market fit is all about, as a bootstrap company, I know there are many definitions.
Oh yeah, your NPS score and whatnot. As a bootstrap company, man, customers need to put their money where their mouth is. And so for me, as a bootstrap company, product market fit means high retention, like near zero churn. The leading indicator of near zero churn is engagement. If they don't use the product, even if they pay you for a year, they're gonna churn the next, the next phase is product channel fit.
Can you figure out one repeatable, scalable channel to get customers? And so your leading indicators there are you getting channel contribution Is the CAC payback period low for a bootstrap company? Ideally less than six months. And then when you're at like, you know, one kind of customer getting one kind of value through one kind of channel, you're at scale.
And at scale then you're putting 75% fuel on fire and 25% maybe testing one new thing, one new channel maybe, or new product or new market, that sort of thing. Very methodically. And so that's, that's how I think about it.[01:07:23] Omer: What's your favorite personal productivity tool or habit? [01:07:27] Lloyed: I set calendar blocks for everything.
I just can't live without it. Okay. If it's not on the calendar, it doesn't exist from working out in the morning. To any activity has to be on the calendar. So it's focus time that's number one. And then I wake up and before I do anything, I work out. I'm thankful for something good that happened the day before.
A person, a thing, an event, bang out as many pushups as I can and then hit the gym. I have to, man. And there was a study from Naperville High School, which did this thing called Zero Hour pe, where students, before they even opened a page of a book, had to work out. And they found that they had the highest IQ in the whole country.
Right? And, and athletically and even mentally, right? Look at it. The NAP will zero hour PE study. There's no brain function. That exercise doesn't improve. And the thing is, man, as an entrepreneur, you feel like you're failing every day. Okay. Things may be good. Then you lose a customer, you lose an employee that you loved, like something or the other.
So many ups and downs, personal ups and downs. But the one thing is completely in your control. When you go to the gym and you hit new personal records, you feel like you're winning. And the feeling of winning in your brain has a lot to do with winning on the field too. Right? Victory starts in the mind.[01:08:53] Omer: I'd never heard of that, that, that Naperville High School. Yeah, look it up. My sister used to live in Naperville for many years. That's a city in or suburb of Chicago. Folks who don't. No. Alright, so let's continue. What's in your crazy business value if you have the time? If [01:09:08] Lloyed: I ever did something another startup, I would've either want to do something in health or wealth.
I think these are the two things that people are not productive proactive on. We're proactive in everything except our wealth and finances and our health. And then we barrel through 65, relying on that, sort of giving it to the tax system. And after 65 relying on the healthcare system, we should, we need to be more productive as humans on our health and wealth.
And so I would do, in one of them, health, it would be longevity. Honestly, I'm a big fan of the science behind precision medicine and and longevity, how to live longer functionally.[01:09:45] Omer: What's an interesting or fun fact about you that most people don't know? I think that's a bit of an unfair question given, you know, all the things we've talked about today, but do we leave anything else? [01:09:55] Lloyed: You know, most people think I'm an idiot and I like it that way. I'm always trolling, I'm always joking around. I have this demeanor. See, I like starting every one at the top. I can't compartmentalize my brain. Most people be like, okay, I'm gonna start this person here and there. I start everyone at the top.
And then over time you'll work your, you'll keep that or work yourself down based on how we interact. But I have, I come with extreme trust, honestly, it's probably served me really well, 98, 90 7% of the time. And the one, two, 3% of the time, it's failed me. Like, I don't read agreements with friends or things like I, I operate a lot on trust and that's why I think people, some people take me for granted or think I'm an idiot because I'm always joking around.
But I do it deliberately because, you know, I think money and power doesn't change you. It just brings out the real you. And if you're gonna screw me, then you would always screw me anyway.[01:10:51] Omer: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And finally, what's sort of your most important passions outside of your work? [01:10:57] Lloyed: Fitness related, like working out dancing and just spending time with family.
I'm a very community person, man. Like, I just love, I can sit and eat good food. And just socialize for hours till the cows come home. Like literally talk about nothing and time will just fly. That's what I love doing. That's my almost every day.[01:11:19] Omer: That's what's happened here. I mean, this has been a long conversation.
We could probably keep talking for another few hours, but we should wrap up here. If people want to find out about Boast, they can go to Boast.ai. Traction Community is at Traction Con Do io. The book from Grassroots to Greatness is on Amazon. And where do you hang out these days if people wanna get in touch with you on LinkedIn?[01:11:46] Lloyed: Lloyd Lobo, L-L-O-Y-E-D-L-O-B-O. And on Instagram, L-L-O-Y-E-D Lobo. [01:11:54] Omer: Thank you brother. It's been awesome. Great to finally get this recorded. It's a big relief for both of us. [01:11:59] Lloyed: I think I. Yeah, I was sweaty making that time. Yeah. [01:12:04] Omer: I appreciate you making the time here. [01:12:05] Lloyed: Thank you so much, man. Looking forward to it.
Send me when it's ready and I will put it in our newsletter as well, and send me your address. I'll ship you a signed copy.[01:12:14] Omer: Awesome. Thank you. That would be great. I'd love that. [01:12:17] Lloyed: Awesome, man. [01:12:18] Omer: Okay, man. [01:12:18] Lloyed: Peace brother. [01:12:19] Omer: A pleasure. Take care. [01:12:20] Lloyed: All the best.