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ClickFunnels: The $135 Million Self-Funded SaaS Startup – with Dave Woodward [237]

Dave Woodward - ClickFunnels

ClickFunnels: The $135 Million Self-Funded SaaS Startup

Dave Woodward is Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) and Partner at ClickFunnels, a SaaS product that lets you design and create sales pages, landing pages, order forms and more, to easily sell your product or service online.

This is the story of a fast-growing $135 million SaaS company which was started in a small town in Boise, Idaho. What's more, the company is self-funded and has never raised any VC money.

A couple of internet marketers had built a successful business selling online info products. But they realized they were wasting a lot of time repeatedly building the same sales funnels.

Wouldn't it be great if we could use a tool to automate most of this work?, they wondered.

So they started brainstorming what the ideal tool would look like. And when they couldn't find a tool like that, they decided that they were going to build it themselves.

A few months into development, they realized that this was more than just a tool to help them with their info products business. A lot of people needed a tool like this.

And that's when they decided they were going to build a SaaS product.

But when they launched, they had a hard time selling the product. They had relationships with a lot of affiliate marketers, so they figured selling through those affiliates would be easy.

But it wasn't. And for a while, it looked like this product was going nowhere.

Yet, in the space of 5 years, they've been able to go from zero to $135 million ARR.

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • How they used webinars to sell their product and how they packaged their SaaS product in a very unique and counter-intuitive way.
  • The importance of building a dream 100′ list and how it helped them to grow their business much faster by focusing on relationships first.
  • How they've focused on building a culture and community with their customers and how that's been critical in driving growth.

There are a lot of useful insights and lessons in this interview.

I hope you enjoy it.

Transcript

Read Full Transcript

Omer Khan [0:09]
Welcome to another episode of The SaaS Podcast. I'm your host, Omar Khan. And this is the show where I interview proven founders and industry experts who share their stories, strategies and insights to help you build, launch and grow your SaaS business. In this episode, I talked to Dave Woodward, Chief Revenue Officer and partner at ClickFunnels a SaaS product that lets you design and create sales pages, landing pages, order forms and more to easily sell your product or service online. So this is a story of a fast-growing 1$35 million SaaS company, which was started in a small town in Boise, Idaho. What's more, the company is self-funded, and has never raised any VC money. A couple of internet marketers had built a successful business selling online info products, but they realized they were wasting a lot of time repeatedly building the same sales funnels. Wouldn't it be great if we could use a tool to automate most of this work they wanted. So they started brainstorming what the ideal tool would look like. And when they couldn't find a tool like that, they decided that they were going to build it themselves. A few months into development, they realized that this was more than just a tool to help them with their info products business. A lot of people needed a tool like this. And that's when they decided they were going to build a SaaS product. But when they launched, they had a hard time selling the product. They had relationships with a lot of affiliate marketers, so they figured selling through those affiliates would be easy, but it wasn't. And for a while, it looked like this product was going nowhere. Yet in the space of five years, they've been able to go from zero to $135 million in annual recurring revenue. In this episode, you'll learn how they use webinars to sell their product and how they package their SaaS product in a very unique and counterintuitive way, the importance of building a Dream 100 list, and how it helped them to grow their business much faster. By focusing on relationships first and how they focused on building a culture and community with their customers, and how that's been critical in driving growth. There are a lot of useful insights and lessons as interview so I really hope you enjoy it. Before we get started, firstly, don't forget to grab a free copy of the SaaS toolkit, which will tell you about the 21 essential tools that every SaaS business needs. You can download your copy by going to theSaaSpodcast.com Secondly, I want to give a shout out to Jason Ayers, one of our successful SaaS Club Plus members, Jason is the co-founder of Coacha Club, a UK-based SaaS product that makes running a sports club or similar type of club easier. You can use Coacha up to manage information about all your members, organized classes and training sessions. payments, build a member portal and lots more. And by vastly streamlining the administrative work, coaches and their staff save time, and in some cases reduce the stress that sometimes comes with running a club. You can learn more about coach up at COACHA that's C-O-A-C-H-A.co.uk, coacha.co.uk. Okay, let's get into the interview. Dave, welcome to the show.

Dave Woodward [3:26]
Thanks. I'm excited. This will be fun.

Omer Khan [3:28]
So I always like to ask my guests that have a favorite quote, something that inspires and motivates them. Do you have something you can share with us?

Dave Woodward [3:35]
For me, it's always been about family and trying to keep things focused. So my favorite quote actually comes from David O. McKay. And it's “No worldly success can compensate for failure in the home”. And that allows me to, as I'm busy trying to build a company to continue realizing I'm really I'm doing this for my family, and I try to keep that as my primary focus.

Omer Khan [3:53]
I love that. That's great quote. So for people who aren't familiar with ClickFunnels, can you tell us What does the product do? Who's it for? And what's the big problem that you're trying to solve?

Dave Woodward [4:06]
Absolutely. We started off primarily as a small, small, middle-sized business, we're actually seeing a lot larger businesses coming on the platform. When I say small, it's typically the infopreneur or the solopreneur, up to about, you know, five to seven employees. We're now we're starting to see companies in the 30 to 50, $75 million range with quite a few more employees than five or seven running on ClickFunnels. The purpose of the software is to light and build your online sales funnel on a platform using a drag and drop editor, while tying in all your merchant accounts, your membership sites, your marketing, automation tools, and everything else all in one place.

Omer Khan [4:42]
So ClickFunnels is basically for anyone who wants to sell something online. You make that as easy as possible for them to do that.

Dave Woodward [4:50]
Yeah, basically what we say is if you're trying to sell something online or generate a lead online ClickFunnels is for you.

Omer Khan [4:55]
Got it. So I want to sort of talk about like, you know, how the idea came up and where you got started here with this but let's before we talk about that, let's talk about like how you got involved with this business and with with Russell Brunson. And with Todd.

Dave Woodward [5:12]
Sure. I've known Russell for the last 12 years at the time I had my own marketing agency. I was living in Southern California. And I was doing a lot of direct response marketing primarily for health insurance companies, mortgage companies, financial services. And a lot of them, were trying to figure out this whole online thing. This was early 2000s. And so by 2008, I actually saw a seminar where Russell was presenting was in Stu McLaren called Affiliate Summit affiliate incubator, something like that. And so I went to the event. And while he was there, he and Stu basically got up and said, you know what, if you guys would like to get to know us a little bit better, feel free to go to at the back and sign up for to take us out to lunch or dinner and kind of pick our brain. So I ran to the back and I signed up for every breakfast, lunch and dinner that Russell had, and basically we became dear friends at that point. We did probably five or six different online ventures together things in the health space, the real estate space, the network marketing space, bunch of different things, some of them information products, others physical products, and really just had the opportunity of building things out. So I just had a great time getting to know him. I met Todd, probably about two years before we started ClickFunnels, I bet I was out in Boise on a project and Todd was there until I was brought into to really kind of be the brainchild behind a lot of the software tools and resources that Russell was playing around with at the time. And then we ended up starting ClickFunnels in September of 2014. And they asked me to join right then.

Omer Khan [6:38]
So where did the idea for ClickFunnels come from?

Dave Woodward [6:42]
Great question. At the time, what was happening is we were Todd was actually spending most of his time continuing to rebuild the exact same type of funnels. So Russell at the time was doing a lot of information products. They also had a large supplement business they had and a bunch of different products. And we actually were trying to really almost launch at that time funnel month. And after a while, like I'm literally doing the exact same thing over and over again, there's got to be some faster, easier way for us. So we have to keep spending all the time to rebuild it. And that's when the idea of a drag and drop editor really came up. So you wouldn't have to have a bunch of dev people all trying to kind of work around each other to get things done. At the time. We had obviously, copywriters, and designers, and you had a lot of the tech and the Dev, and we found you. Even though Todd was pretty much the guy driving the the tech stuff forward, there were still quite a few other people he was outsourcing things to. And but you know, there's got to be a faster, easier way that anybody could do this. And most importantly, get a product up and running and tested much faster. And I think that was the biggest brainchild for us. And that's really when Todd, Russell kind of got together and literally sat in front of a whiteboard and said, All right, if I was to do this what I want and so Russell just started throwing idea after idea. Well, I would like this and I was not gonna mention to anyone merchant account and actually had multiple merchant accounts. So I don't get shut down, I want to be able to do that. And literally just created this long laundry list of all the things that he wanted. And Todd went to work and basically built what Russell on at the time.

Omer Khan [8:12]
So I'm curious, like, why didn't you guys like look in the market and see if there was a product that could help? Because there was, you know, I'm kind of trying to think back to what things were like in 2013.

Dave Woodward [8:25]
So that this is 2014. I'm first thing literally, lead page that just received their, I think, was their first round of funding. And that's when Todd was like, wait a second. I could literally build this in my sleep. And so he thought, well, if I can build that, what else can I build? And so there was, again, I think it's hard for people now. I mean, we're 2020, five now, six years since we started this thing. And the SaaS tools that are out there now are so robust and so much more abundant than they were what seems like an eternity ago. But again, if you went back five or six years, there weren't as many Many things as there are nowadays to actually build and do the kind of stuff that we can do now.

Omer Khan [9:04]
And when you guys were thinking about this, was this in the context of let's build a product we can sell to other people? Or was this about? Let's build a tool that makes it easier for us to do all of this stuff that Todd is doing manually today?

Dave Woodward [9:18]
Great question Omer at first, it was let me build a just for us. And then it wasn't soon after that were Russell thought, you know, I've been trying to build something like this for other people for a long time. I wonder if we could actually build this and sell it. And so Russell loves marketing and selling stuff. And a very quickly turned to think all right, if we can actually create what I think we can create, and let's find a way of creating a marketing system around this to really go out and sell this to the masses.

Omer Khan [9:45]
What are you guys doing in terms of revenue today?

Dave Woodward [9:48]
So 2019 just closed and we just did over $135M, 2018-2019 we're around $100M. So we've been added about 30 to 40 million per year for the last four years.

Omer Khan [10:00]
I mean, you've basically gone from zero to over 100 million dollars in space over five years. And basically, none of you guys had experience with software before this, as far as I know. And a lot of the things that you did to try and drive growth were very different to how we see most SaaS companies thinking about their marketing. So I think it's a really unique kind of interesting story. And I really want to, you know, that's one of the reasons I was really looking forward to this and having this conversation with you sort of dig into, like, how you guys drove that kind of growth and some of the unique things that that you were doing that maybe, you know, we just don't hear enough about. So maybe let's, uh, let's talk about that. So, so Todd says, Okay, I'm gonna go and build this product. And then at what point did you guys decide okay, now we're going to stop settling in. And here's how we're going to do that.

Dave Woodward [11:02]
That actually took place about midway through the development phase. And I think one of the big things for us is we realized, at the time, we all had our own side gigs kind of going, I was still living in San Diego working doing some things on the side, Russell had a couple of his other side projects going, which actually, we'll talk about a little later, when we started going out to other people with one of the concerns of some of our affiliates. But for us, one of the biggest issues was we didn't want to take on any capital, we wanted to make sure that the software could stand on its own. We really kind of anti-VC even to this day. It's kind of fun. I talked to a lot of growth, equity, private equity people all the time. And they're like, you trying to tell me you have no debt? And there's no additional cap people on the cap table besides you founding partners and things. I'm like, No, we haven't taken on me. And so it's a it's a great story, and I love telling it, but I'm more than happy to talk about any of the growth things we've done whenever you'd like to fire away those.

Omer Khan [11:56]
Yeah, so let's talk about the VC piece first, like I've heard Russell talk about this before, but just for people who aren't familiar, like, tell us why you guys are kind of anti-VC.

Dave Woodward [12:08]
you know, a lot of it came down to. We've talked a lot about this. Most of us as entrepreneurs have all cycled two or three times, meaning we've had things that work and things that have crashed. And I've always kind of in our gut feeling was, we got to be able to build something that should be able to stand on its own, without having to bring in other people's money first. And so it was more of a proof of concept is more to make sure that hey, we can actually go out and do this. And once we started doing and we realized the last thing I want to do is give away equity to a bunch of VC guys who really have no I mean, they're in this thing for, you know, a three to five x multiple in three to five years. They don't care about the culture, they don't care about us. It's just a money grab for them. And so for us, we really thought you know what, our whole idea behind this as we start building a community and a culture and educating and teaching people about how to use the platform. We want to be doing exactly what we're teaching them and it became Really a foundational tenet for us in our own personal beliefs that you should be able to go out and build a business in today's marketplace without having to bring outside capital. And fortunately been able to prove that and we've got right now over 700 people have done over a million dollars in a sales funnel and 50 have done over 10 million and we've got those that are now eclipsing, you know, 50 and 75 million without bringing on capital.

Omer Khan [13:22]
So let's talk about like how you started selling, Click Funnels. I know that webinars were a big growth driver when you launch the product. So tell me a little bit about like how that worked?

Dave Woodward [13:34]
Well, first of all, prior to webinars, we really thought Russell's been in the information marketing space for quite a few years. And we thought that just the product by itself should sell itself. And just by going out to partners and affiliates and things we already knew that we could literally just give them the product and they'd be oh my gosh is the most amazing thing in the world. We want to use it let's just go ahead and use it and it'll sell itself very quickly found that was not the case. And we tried a couple of different things tried different, you know, freemium type products tried different, lower price points. And it wasn't until Russell's actually asked to speak of Mike feel same event down in San Diego. And he said, you know, gotcha, Ross, I really want to speak and I want you to sell ClickFunnels and at the time, like we've been trying to sell hasn't been selling that great. Can you put together a sales presentation and sell it at my event? And we're like, sure. And now obviously, at that time, in time you're selling from stage, you're typically splitting revenue 50-50. So we thought there's no way you can, we could split just the software piece. And so Russell put together a amazing killer offer, and ended up selling that $997 for a year's worth of ClickFunnels, we actually gave away that which is one of the keys. I think we need the [inaudible], we actually gave away the software for free for that year and actually sold all the education, the content and all the training that was necessary to help a person actually have success. So they bought that for thousand dollars and then they got the software for free. That went gangbusters and literally that that night at dinner where Russell said, you know, guys, we finally hit it, this is the deal, this is what we're going to do and it's going to, it's going to go crazy. And it was prophetic, because literally within months, we found Russell literally doing a webinar, sometimes two or three a day, and just burning the midnight oil. But in doing that we brought on literally 10s of thousands of customers.

Omer Khan [15:28]
Okay, so let's talk about the what you just said about like, you know, they were buying, basically like info products and the software was you gave it away for free initially. What was the thinking behind that? And why do you think that was the right way to sell the product?

Dave Woodward [15:44]
Actually, it ties into principal Russell's talk for years. It's called the Perfect Webinar, where the idea behind it is to identify the vehicle so the vehicle here was sales funnels at the time really wasn't. People weren't that familiar with. And then during the whole presentation, it's a matter of helping people overcome All their internal beliefs and their external beliefs and then providing the offer. And the idea behind it is the offer actually needs to have the tools and the resources that provide the people everything they need to overcome those false beliefs. And so some of those false beliefs could be, I'm just not techie, or I can't write copy or I can't drive traffic. And so what we ended up doing was providing literally the tools and the resources that they that's what actually they were buying were those tools and resources. That was we had our funnel hacks, training that basically taught people how to actually create an online sales funnel. We gave away instant traffic hacks, which then taught them how to actually go out and get traffic. We gave away some of the copy secrets as well. So they were buying those types of things for the thousand dollars and then the logical place would then be well, I need to put that someplace and where do I put it? I put it inside of ClickFunnels.

Omer Khan [16:49]
Got it? Yeah, I mean, most SaaS companies would sell the product and two different levels of you know, whatever. They would provide resources to help those customers be successful at a very basic level, it might just be, you know, some help documentation. On the other end of the spectrum, I've seen some companies will build, you know, some kind of Academy type thing where they have training content and online courses and will kind of help you be successful that way. But you guys kind of flipped it completely and said, No, we'll sell you the training content, and we'll give the software for free, which is,

Dave Woodward [17:34]
It literally was a game-changer for us. And I think as I've had the opportunity of looking at others who have done similar types of things, one of the biggest issues people have is they struggle with trying to find out what they should be selling, and how they should actually be communicating and working with their clients. And too often, most people undervalue the content, the information that they have, and we by actually selling that and then providing The software for free, we actually were able to charge much more than the actual software. And that allowed us then to, again goes back to Dan Kennedy's it as far as whoever can spend the most acquire customer wins the game. And when all you have, if you take a look at for us, as far as our CAC, at that time would have been about $140-$50, then that's our free trial. And if you figured you a 40% of those are going to convert to paid, we live almost had to have $300 to actually get a paying customer paying, you know, $97 a month. And so we've got about a three-month run rate on that. For us by being able to charge much more, we were able to generate a lot more revenue to then actually spend more money to buy ads to pay more traffic to the webinar, which then fueled a ton more of our growth and then also paid for our developers help pay for support and really allowed us to grow without having to take on additional capital or any capital for that.

Omer Khan [18:50]
Yeah. And if you're someone like Russell, who has kind of a background of many years of selling info products very successfully, it's probably a lot easier to sell that and create that type of product and sell it for a higher price than a SaaS product where people may struggle to, to sort of give you you know, thousand dollars up front for.

Dave Woodward [19:19]
you know, I'm sure it'd be easier for people to say that these days. Fortunately, Russell's created a, we now have the trilogy that he's releasing DotCom secrets, Expert Secrets, and now Traffic Secrets. Expert Secrets is the one that literally goes through and teaches you exactly how to become that attractive character, how to put together the entire copy basically, that allows you to create those types of products. So no matter who you are, whether you're selling Bigfoot expeditions up in Washington status as one of our clients does, you literally can create that type of a product.

Omer Khan [19:50]
Yeah, they're great books. I haven't seen the new one but I have the DotCom secret so that

Dave Woodward [19:55]
It comes out May 5th.

Omer Khan [19:57]
Oh, there you go. You go. Okay, so I was I'm curious about the affiliate piece because I always assumed a big part of ClickFunnels success was, you know, Russell already had, and you guys already had this community of people and affiliates. And it was like, Oh, you guys built Click Funnel and sent an email out to this list. And all of these people were like, you know, yeah, let's sign up. And suddenly, things got started really quickly. And it's like, well, that didn't happen and you kind of struggling to sell the product. Why do you think that was? Like, why was it so hard initially to sell the software?

Dave Woodward [20:32]
I think the main reason was, whenever you're selling a whole bunch of different products, as Russell was at the time, a lot of people get concerned that you may help. It's definitely useful information product versus a SaaS product. When you're selling a SaaS product. Your customers expect you to be around for a long time. They don't want to see another offer from you coming out in another month or two or three months or six months for that matter. They want to know that you're, this is what you're going to be in well Russell done a lot of different products and offers. And so some of the affiliates, even though they'd be more than happy to jump on a different type of product offering, they were a little hesitant to jump into a SaaS offer, where they knew there was going to have to be a whole bunch of support, where this is something that that wasn't going to just be around for six months or a year. But people were living building their entire business and counting on that, to literally sustain them for years to come. And so we had, there was a lot of issues that we had to kind of overcome in the mindset of some of these affiliates, that it wasn't just a quick buck that this literally was are shutting down every other business Russell had to focus completely on ClickFunnels. And that took some time. I think there was some other people who are sitting there going, you know what, we want to sit and wait and see how this actually plays out. This wasn't the first time Russell tried to create a ClickFunnels type of product. This is our third attempt. And so that just life has a couple of lessons and it was one of the lessons we ended up learning that time.

Omer Khan [22:00]
So how were you getting traffic to the webinars was this mostly just pay per click ads and getting people to, to register that way?

Dave Woodward [22:09]
There were some affiliates, we actually one of the main things Russell spends a ton of time teaching in his books is this principle as far as the Dream 100. And so we really had we had done a ton of marketing to our Dream 100 who would be who has the audience that ClickFunnels is perfect for how do we get in contact with them? And so instead of going just to our affiliates, we literally started doing our Dream 100 where we had an outreach campaign to find out, no, we want this person because they have the audience that is ideal for it. And if we can get a webinar with that guy, or girl, it'd be, it would be a game-changer for us. And so, yes, you would, I guess in assessee kind of call that person affiliate, but it was a Dream 100 campaign to those people. Some of it was actually building funnels for them and showing them how easy it was and then given in the funnel for free and then exchange for that I'm doing a webinar later. So the Dream 100 For us has been a huge, huge growth opportunity. We still use it today we're in the process of creating our Dream 100 campaign for Russell's book Traffic Secrets that launches May 5th.

Omer Khan [23:10]
So the Dream 100 is basically a list of like, the top influencers who already have audiences, that would be a good fit for click file. And then the outreach is really about figuring out how you can get them on board to get to know ClickFunnels, like ClickFunnels, and eventually, you know, promote that to their own audience. So I'm curious, like, what were some of the kind of tactics you use to do outreach and get some of these people on board? Because I'm sure there's a lot of people listening a lot right now who are thinking, Well, yeah, that's a great idea. I could probably come up with a list of 100 people, but how the heck am I actually going to persuade them to pay attention and get excited about what I'm doing here?

Dave Woodward [23:55]
Love this. We could talk for hours about this principle. I think the main thing is the action It goes back to this whole idea as far as people care, they want to know that you care more about them than the maximum product. And so a lot of our outreach was really just trying to build that relationship. And some of the times it was identifying what are there's a lot of research that goes into this, what do they like? What are they currently involved in? What are the things they're doing, and it takes some time, where you're literally just sending them different things that pertain specifically to them or to their audience, or to the charities they're involved in, or whatever that might be. It's really just, I look at the Dream 100 just as you would dating, and you've got to make sure you spend a whole bunch of time getting to know that person. You're asking this, there's a ton of trust whenever you're asking someone to promote your product. And we just didn't want a one-time promotion. We wanted this to be something that we come back to them, you know, six months later a year later, and fortunate we've had that opportunity because we really dug that well deep before we needed before we got thirsty on that, I guess. So knowing ahead of time that we eventually want to do this. We started really early on starting to dig that well. And sometimes it was, hey, you know what we should You've got this product launch coming out, how about we actually build your launch funnel for you in advance. Other times, Russell's book DotCom Secrets came out real soon after our launch and so we started sending free copies of the book out to people will have the opportunity of inviting people to masterminds having doing anything and everything we could to really just develop a relationship and a friendship that would last much longer than just a quick promotion.

Omer Khan [25:22]
Okay, and so, typically, like how long would you do this kind of outreach before you made an ask and and felt like you know, you're ready to or they would be ready to promote ClickFunnels?

Dave Woodward [25:35]
Well, for Tony Robbins, it was over 10 years. Dean Graziosi was probably about seven years, eight years. These are two guys who we have great relationships with. We just did a major launch with them earlier this year, a different product. Others are just two or three weeks and sometimes it's two or three months. It just depends on the person. A lot of it also depends on who you know, that knows them. If you can get an introduction. A lot of it was attending live events. I'm a huge proponent of attending the live event. People are let their guard down a lot more when they're at a live event, they're much more willing to talk, you can really find out, spend time with them a lot of dinners, a lot of just networking and, and spending the time to find out more about them. And if someone knew someone else, and we asked for an introduction, we do that as often as we possibly could.

Omer Khan [26:22]
So what I like about this term, the Russell coin around the Dream 100 is that when people think about sort of doing influencer marketing, it's like, okay, I'll kind of start making a list of people. And I'll have some kind of email sequence that I'll send out to them or something and eventually I'll make an ask for them. But when you sort of limited down to say like, these are hundred people, you know, that are our dream list of people, then it kind of gives you license to spend more time like really understanding each one of those people as you sort of described and what are they doing what a success look like for them, how could you help the How could you share something that might be useful in, you know, and just really think about, like, I love that concept because it's that what you said about like digging your well before you're thirsty. It's a great book by the way. So I think I have that. But yeah, it's it's really about that right. It's just in terms of really thinking, like thinking about a relationship rather than this email sequence or just outreach.

Dave Woodward [27:28]
Omer, I can't express more than that is you have to look at businesses all about relationships. Anytime it's just a quick couple of emails. I mean, they quickly go to someone else. It's, I see a ton of, uh, you know, Instagram, shout outs everything else and you pay x dollar amount. Yeah, those are great, but that's not a real relationship. I want someone who I mean, I've known Roland Frasier for years, and we've done a ton of things together. And we were I was consulting with him a while back and getting did the consulting for free. But just as a token, neither Russell Drink, but I know that Roland is a huge collector of fine wines. And so we sent him a very expensive bottle of fine wine just to say thanks. And I think that's, I treat those relationships the same way today, even after they've promoted after we've done business. I was on the phone with Dean Graziosi earlier today, just as a friend just kind of talking through some different business ideas. I don't look at a Dream 100 as what's in it for me, and how fast can I do this? I want these relationships that are going to last for a long, long time. It's not just about a quick promotion, if you're going into the Dream 100 just to get a quick promotion. You're doing it totally wrong. And I'd encourage it not to do it that way.

Omer Khan [28:34]
You guys have also spent a lot of time thinking about culture and community. Can you talk a little bit about that and what you've done and how that's helped drive growth.

Dave Woodward [28:44]
Sure. Our culture and community actually, I think we've probably got the idea of most of all from Apple. I'm a huge proponent of Steve Jobs and everything he's done as far as are good as far as building Apple again. You've hit basically have Apple and you have PCs and these days, I walk around and all I ever see your apples I don't I rarely see a PC these days. And I think main reason for that is the culture in the community they built around this for them as more of the rebel it was the 1984 rebel ad it was those types of things. But even going forward, as Steve Jobs came back, one of these things just came back to how things got rid of a lot of the the tenuous types of projects to really focus on was the product that his community, his culture needed. For us. We've looked at it the exact same way. We've been pretty gun shy about having an annual event. So we launched ClickFunnels in September, and we had a lot of people who said, let's do a live event. Let's get everybody together because they started feeling this community. And we were just, it just didn't want to do it. And then all of a sudden, a couple people said, well, we're going to go ahead and we're gonna do this event. We're like, well, what we saying, We don't want our community when the event we want to be once again, control of it. So we thought, Well, what do we call this and at that time, we started seeing the the term funnel hackers come out and it all was coined from what Russell was doing and he was teaching it was part of the webinar and that was was called funnel hacking. How do you actually funnel hack the success of someone else to expedite your learning and your growth of your own company. And so we started and had our first live event, which was called funnel hacking live or next one happens to be in next week, they'll be our sixth one. My only reason seeing that is the term funnel hacking. And funnel hacker became our community to the point where we now have T-shirts and that, in fact, anytime a person signs up for a free trial, our onboarding sequence, literally watching a 20 minute video of Russell, my time they get through that is if they've watched it, all they have to do is click a button, tell us the size of the T-shirt and we send them out a funnel hacking shirt, it's just black shirt with our funnel hacker logo and, and the crazy thing is I've seen that shirt in airports live around the country, and sometimes as I've traveled internationally as well, and for me, it's exciting to see that people were that as they wanted to belong to something they want to belong to a community especially as entrepreneurs these days We serve the most. It's a really lonely community out there. And so if they can feel like they're part of something uniting that community for us was one of the biggest things that we did with ClickFunnels was trying to unite a very fragmented entrepreneurial community. I've had people basically say, gosh, that free t-shirts cost me literally hundreds of dollars because they just for thousands of dollars, because I haven't done anything yet on the software, but I just love the community. And so I think it's a, there's just a lot that goes into building a community, and most importantly, really spending the time to nurture that community. And for us, it's everything from the T-shirts, it's the podcast, it's everything that we do our live events, everything's built around our community.

Omer Khan [31:41]
Yeah, and I think that, you know, the T-shirts are a tactic but the real thing that holds all of this together is this identity that you've created of what a funnel hacker is. And, you know, I've heard Russell kind of, I guess, be a little bit provocative when he's just saying, Hey, you know, we don't we go out there and we do this with the money we have, we don't cheat by raising VC money and all that sort of stuff. And I think people that really resonates with a lot of people, right? They, they want to feel like they're part of something like that.

Dave Woodward [32:13]
Definitely. In fact, we even have a funnel hacker manifesto, and I'm a funnel hacker and find my own destiny. I create my own luck. I build my own empires, I changed the world. I'm just one funnel away of it.

Omer Khan [32:25]
Let's talk about some of the challenges of running a software company. And I know you know, when after ClickFunnels, it sort of taken off and you had customers and everything. You showed an example with me before we started recording about what you described as like, you know, one of the scariest days of our lives. Tell me about that, like…

Dave Woodward [32:48]
Sure. Russell and I were in Denver. We just did a live event where he spoke from stage he was not ready to fly out to London to with his family to catch a flight and to speak it onstage out there and sell ClickFunnels internationally. We're super excited about the whole thing. He literally got on his flight. And as he got on his flight, Todd reached out, as we basically started seeing our Facebook community in our channel going nuts because everyone's sites were down. Every single person's funnels were just crashed or like what's going on, and come to find out basically, the servers are crashed our database had been who had trusted the people with basically gotten corrupted. And Russell was midair, trying to figure this whole thing out Todd and Ryan, Ryan was our CTO at the time and trying to figure out what we could do. Fortunately, we were able to find a backup. And the company we were working with at time said, You know what, we'll have this up in the next you know, two to three days we're like, No, you don't understand. We don't have two to three days. We've got like two to three hours at the most we got to find some way of getting this up and running. So Todd and Ryan went heads down with their other developers took it from where it was put it on to an AWS server at the time, built everything and literally rebuilt all of ClickFunnels. It took I think, probably six hours. And the most important part was the time, Russell's flying internationally was communicating with the audience with our, our channel and basically saying, Listen, he was totally open and transparent about it. And you have to understand we are the number one customer of ClickFunnels, all of our funnels are down to we feel your pain, we know what you're going through. We're doing absolutely everything we possibly can to get this up and running. We will keep you posted, we will keep you updated. And anytime we've ever had any glitch or anything that's been really kind of the approach we've taken. But I think that that's where the importance of redundancy and and even though we thought we had all the backups, everything else, we really wanted to make sure that we had invested into the software and into the database much more than we had in the past.

Omer Khan [34:43]
Yeah, I can see you were victims of your own success in many ways. And I think it's worth pointing out right that the severity of the impact of an outage like that, for a product like ClickFunnels is massive because You have a SaaS product and you know, it's kind of, I don't know, let's say it's a CRM or something and it goes down. It's probably not the end of the world, right? Your salespeople can still go out and talk to customers and all that sort of stuff. But when something like this goes down, and you've got customers who are running their businesses on it, and relying on it to generate sales day in, day out, you're messing with their livelihood as well.

Dave Woodward [35:30]
Oh, my gosh, yes.

Omer Khan [35:31]
Right. That's kind of nuts.

Dave Woodward [35:34]
Yeah. Yeah. It's crazy. It's insane. It's one of those things where their entire business, their entire livelihood is on your platform. And so having stability is probably one of the most important things for us. And that's really what we've tried to do. Our whole focus is yeah, we want to continue to grow and to build and develop but the stability aspect has got always be there.

Omer Khan [35:57]
Yeah. Okay, I guess we should run wrap up. Let's get on to the lightning round. I'm going to ask you seven quickfire questions. Just try that as quickly as you can. Okay?

Dave Woodward [36:08]
Yep.

Omer Khan [36:09]
All right, what's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

Dave Woodward [36:12]
I, for me, honestly, the best advice I ever got was just to trust your gut. It's, I've had a friend refer to it as gut-tuition. And that is, too often you're, you're you think, gosh, I should ask my customers about this, I should do that. And most the time you just you know best. You're just afraid to actually take the action that you need to take. And so I've learned that the best thing for me to do is just trust my gut when I don't know what else to do.

Omer Khan [36:35]
What book would you recommend to our audience and why?

Dave Woodward [36:36]
I guess there's two books. One be Play Bigger. It refers. I actually like I was the title of the category king. The whole idea about it is to build a business that really can become the category king. The category king will take up about 90% of the market share and everybody else fights for the remaining 10% of the scraps. The other book is a book by Keith Cunningham called the Road Less Stupid. is just great from a business owner's perspective when you're actually trying to run a business. And too often we forget the importance of managing by numbers and he goes through all the successes and failures he's had over the years.

Omer Khan [37:10]
What's one attribute or characteristic in your mind of a successful entrepreneur?

Dave Woodward [37:14]
For me, I think the most important one is storytelling. I think as an entrepreneur, you have to have the ability to cast a vision, and to convey that vision. And there's nothing better than if you can actually do it through story. And so I would tell any entrepreneur, you need to really study how to tell stories.

Omer Khan [37:29]
What's your favorite personal productivity tool or habit?

Dave Woodward [37:32]
I probably use Voxer. I with G Suite and Slack, we use those as well. But Voxer is probably the thing that we communicate through the most with our community and with our team.

Omer Khan [37:42]
What's new or crazy business idea you'd love to pursue if you had the extra time.

Dave Woodward [37:47]
I'm actually doing it right now and that's ClickFunnels. There's nothing else I can do than this, and it's a crazy, crazy idea.

Omer Khan [37:54]
What's an interesting little fun fact about you that most people don't know.

Dave Woodward [37:57]
That's hard for me because I'm so open and transparent about everything. I'm just an adrenaline junkie. And I think most people kind of see that. But I'm pretty open, transparent. There's few things people don't know about me.

Omer Khan [38:08]
What is one of your most important passions outside of your work?

Dave Woodward [38:10]
For me is my family. We love being out in the outdoors, spending time together, that's, nothing's more important than that. Also,

Omer Khan [38:18]
great answers. Thanks, Dave. Thanks for joining me and sharing the ClickFunnels story and all the crazy stuff that you guys have done in this kind of very short amount of time and then the success that you've had. Now if people want to go and check out ClickFunnels, they can go to clickfunnels.com. And if they want to get in touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that?

Dave Woodward [38:39]
I have Facebook or Instagram. I'm on both those pretty, pretty frequently.

Omer Khan [38:43]
Okay, we'll include a link in the show notes to those and you have a podcast of your own as well. So I'll include a link in there as well if people want to kind of hear more about what you're up to.

Dave Woodward [38:52]
That sounds great. ClickFunnels Radio.

Omer Khan [38:55]
That's awesome. Thanks, Dave. Thanks for joining me and wish you guys all the best of success.

Dave Woodward [39:00]
Alright, see yeah.

Omer Khan [39:01]
Cheers. Alright, thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed the interview, you can get to the show notes by going to theSaaSpodcast.com, where you'll find a summary of this episode and a link to all the resources we discussed. If you enjoyed this episode, then please subscribe to the podcast. And if you're in a good mood, consider leaving a rating and review to show your support for the show. It's always appreciated. Thanks for listening. Until next time, take care.

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The Show Notes

Omer Khan

Hi, I'm Omer, the founder of SaaS Club and host of The SaaS Podcast. I help early stage founders and entrepreneurs to build, launch and grow successful SaaS businesses. Join me on this journey.