In-Depth With Casey Gauss


Casey Gauss joins us for an in-depth session delving into what makes the man. Not your typical hustler early on, coding with socks on his hands and working at McDonalds all play second fiddle to Casey’s Mom and Dad.

  • Was coding with socks on his hands
  • Founded viral launch at 21 got 60 employees
  • 45k launches
  • Sellers helped to $7bn in sales

What did your parents instil in you as a kid?

  • Dad is a super hard worker and got work ethic from him
  • Mon was that you need to believe in yourself
  • Some of the family are not the nicest to other people – so driven to help people
  • Grew up with not the most money – so grown up knowing you can make bad decisions that take you to bad places

Earliest Entrepreneurial Memory / First Job?

  • Not a typical hustler
  • Had in-depth ideas for inventions and making inventions
  • Wasn’t until a talk at college that woke Casey to entrepreneurship

Was school important or a waste?

  • It was both, learnt to mature
  • Learned more about myself in-depth
  • Pushed Casey to be a better version of himself

Most meaningful job?

  • Only one other job was working at McDonalds in high school
  • Fast paced environment
  • Taking pride in good work and working quickly
  • Focus on specialisation in the processing

Something about you that no-one else knows?

  • Like to play the drums

Business book?

  • How to win Friends and Influence People read in-depth
  • You are always interacting with people and so you need to read it
  • How to create a win-win scenario
  • It costs you nothing to be kind to people
  • Try to be your best every day

Biggest Influence in your Life?

  • Probably Mom
  • Had a rough upbringing and now have the grit to get on with things like coding with socks on my hands
  • Was okay not having much money and had a profound effect on Casey

Most important habits on a daily basis?

  • 1. Reading, read a lot. Take an hour a day
    • From pop-culture to Harvard Business Review articles
    • Prefer articles to books
  • 2. Eating well and exercise – helped to give energy as don’t sleep that much
    • Cardio is a good session and important for overall health and cognitive function
    • 3-4 Times a week lifting weight and cardio
    • No gluten or dairy and try to eat clean (wife is gluten and dairy avoider)
    • Working 6 days a week 12/14hrs a day so need to keep on top of diet and exercise with little sleep
  • 3. Talking with People
    • Helped to stay sane and interact with people to help build the company

One thing you believe in that goes against the grain for most people?

  • A religious guy so maybe not against the grain
  • Not a huge advocate of work / life balance
  • Feel like put on the Earth to help people not to enjoy life as much as possible to bring myself happiness
  • Disagree with work life balance

Biggest weakness?

  • Brain does not understand organisation and structure
    • Was helpful at first in Viral Launch
    • With 60+ people you need more structure in the Business
    • Hired a Leadership team that is a lot more structured and in-depth
    • Trying to make a mind-shift to more structure

Darkest Hours?

  • Mom was evicted, car repossessed, money was scarce
  • Right before being able to pay a wage from Viral Launch
  • Was doing different things to make money
  • Would go work construction for a weekend for $250
  • Finally managed to pay ourselves and paid $600 bucks and felt rich
  • Viral-launch had over-hired a bit and sales weren’t doing so well
  • Bank was $20k but salary run was $100k – really disturbing
  • Amazon was talking down giveaways – really worried Amazon was going to drop giveaways
  • 2 months later came out with ‘market intelligence’ and it was a game changer

Greatest comeback from adversity?

  • Dropping out of school
  • Lots of people judged Casey and left him out to rot
  • It was a tough time for Casey
  • Viral-launch has grown in first couple of years
  • Casey wears a beanie every day and not your conventional CEO
  • Got rising entrepreneur award in Indiana state this weekend – the Governor and top Execs are there
  • Like being ‘accepted’ now and quite emotional
  • Felt like in the last 5 years been so ‘counted out’ by many and this was recognition

Most common advice you give people?

  • If you’re younger, learn how to code as you can build anything you imagine if you know how
  • Read books like ‘How to win friends and influence people’
  • It’s all about people and being able to work with and communicate with people
  • Care about other people and find other people who do
  • Work really hard even when people count you out

What advice should people ignore?

  • The work life balance is one of them
  • ‘You Deserve stuff’ – I worked hard this week so I deserve this car, shoes, etc
    • People get trapped in this mode and it’s a real limiting factor as you spend all your money on these things that you feel like you deserve
  • “THings are the way they are” – I’m born in a small town and it sucks
    • You can change that, go move to NY or change that job
    • Not enough people realise YOU can effect the change you want to see in the World
    • Entrepreneurs change their situation

First product launch

  • 2014 was a slow launch with Beta into Production
  • Huge fan of giving things away but you have to make money to build the business
  • Coded a MVP to drive keyword ranking with coupons
  • Offered a couple of AMazon Sellers this service for free
  • Weren’t really well connected but gave it to this guy and he was greatly successful from the tool
  • He told his friends and they came
  • By month 4-5 they were making $10k/month
  • All because they gave stuff away for free!

Growing the Business

  • Co-founder and Casey built the business
  • Casey knew nothing about Amazon so co-founder was super helpful
  • 9 Months in was $90k / month – Casey on his own as co-founder was away
  • HIred a customer service person and an Operations guy – paying $60k/year
  • Moved into an extra customer service person and stayed to 3-4 people and $100k / month
  • Were worried that Amazon would change the algorithm
  • But decided to scale the company to make something bigger
  • Did this all off of $700 initially from the co-founder and raised $1m in 2018 Summer
  • Mostly grown just on Revenue

Growth

  • Offered product photography and keyword listings
  • July 2016 offered this at scale – as listing is setup poorly to convert
  • Revenue continued to grow by end of 2016 making $200k/month
  • End of 2016 had 15 people – 5 x Customer Service, 3 x Marketing, 4 x Listing Writers, 3 x Photographers, 2 x Mngt (Casey and Operations guy)
  • 2017 released ‘Market Intelligence’ and had 2 x Developers (Casey still writing code)
  • Nov 2017 launched Product Discovery (4x Devs, HR Person – upto 25 people)

Launch of Market Intelligence

  • Launched Market Intelligence
  • Second weakness is marketing for Casey, thinks more from the ENgineering size
  • Had a 20k list of Sellers
  • Sold Market Intelligence at $10/month
  • Simple webinar was pretty much it
  • Jungle Scout was out and competing
  • Selling at this price helped with word of mouth
  • Everybody is in-house currently – can manage a lot better in-person
  • Have a couple of

Launch of Product Discovery

  • 7-8 Customer Service, 3-4 Marketing People, Product Photographers/Listings, DIrector or Products was a new Hire (from Salesforce)
  • Did a webinar to the email list
  • Helped was a lot of the Amazon courses pushed Product Research
  • Had a lot of really cool concepts in the Product Finder that helped
  • Really took off
  • Pricing structure was setup really well
  • 4 Different Types (Products,m Keywords, Brands, Categories)
  • Using Keyword Search is better to find good product ideas – Junglescout did only PRoduct search
  • Star Rating was a game-changer – was gated with an annual subscription ($500 to get access to Star rating) to stop people coming in for a month and pulling all their products for the 12 months and then leave
  • Access to keyword search and brand search had to pay more
  • That structure was really good from a Revenue perspective

Product Roadmap

  • Keyword Tool launched in Early March
  • Was a close launch to Product Discovery
  • Spent a lot of Summer on the keyword tooling
  • Then launched some tools as customers asked for it (Keyword tracking that also tracks your Sponsored Ads with notifications) Nov 2018
  • Went from 30 to 60 employees in 2018

How have you managed bad hires?

  • Marketing curse – hired two different marketing leaders and neither have worked out so far
  • Move fast and learn
  • Usually tell within 1st week if they are a good fit
  • Always afraid that not doing a good job of making you successful
  • Casey goes and grabs coffee and sits down to talk it through with radical candid feedback (Radical Candor Feedback)
  • If it’s still not working in week 2 then a formal sit-down to document it and the areas where it’s not working
  • If still not working in a couple of weeks then give the severance and let them go
  • At first it was so hard to let people go
  • But a number have gone on and in a happier place

Pay it forward philosophy?

  • Enable a lot of other people to give back
  • Thought I was just helping rich people get richer
  • But a couple of friends were making significant money on AMazon and they were donating 25% of their profit to charity
  • These guys donate millions of dollars
  • We help entrepreneurs and that’s super cool
  • We hold weekly challenges for staff to go volunteer
  • Building an environment in the company to have workdays to go out and serve or donate means we can achieve a lot more
  • We bring in people who want to get into tech and we bring them in to get them excited about tech
  • Have an on-going food donation scheme and volunteering too

Networking in-depth?

  • Don’t network very much in Indianapolis
  • Aspire to do more
  • CEO and Exec know everyone in Indianapolis
  • In the Tech community, Casey goes to as many conferences as possible
  • Not always about the speakers but a lot is about interacting with other sellers
  • Learn on tip and it can pay for 3 x Conferences
  • Spent a lot of time talking on facebook and groups and it’s paid off in leaps and bounds
  • People buy people
  • Viral-launch is a company focussed on helping people
  • Make meaning and then you make money – Steve JObs

Who do you rate in the Amazon community for putting in the work?

  • Been speaking to Liran Hirschkorn a lot recently
  • Surprised at how many people claim to be something they are not
  • Get to see the real side of people in this space
  • Liran is very honest with people and has no alternative motive
  • Outside of that – Casey’s biggest customers are not in the groups but he gets a lot of great feedback from these Sellers

Worst Advice you have heard given to Amazon Sellers?

  • Use Merchant Words – lot of keyword tools out there with better data sources
  • How many people still focus on BSR than Keyword Ranking
  • People put all their keywords into one ad group and your highest volume keyword will take all your budget and no opportunity to drive traffic through keywords that might perform well for you

Switch to SaaS from Service

  • Always looked at Viral-launch as a software company
  • Also had a good piece of revenue in photography and listing optimisation
  • Been great when talked to potential acquirers and investors now we’re SaaS
  • Getting a multiple on EBIT-DA of 1-3 times EBIT-DA as opposed to 5-8 TImes Top Line Revenue
  • Not thought too much on this
  • Multiples are different in a SaaS to a Service Business

Where will you be in 2 years?

  • Between now and 5 years we could have offers to sell
  • Main focus is on Amazon
  • Won’t always be the main focus
  • Mainly as 50% of sales are on Amazon in US
  • Prediction for 2019 – Facebook poses one of the biggest threats to Amazon

What advice to advanced sellers?

  • Stuck in the $5m mark trying to diversify outside Amazon
  • Only seen on kill it in Retail
  • Only one done good outside Amazon
  • Just repeat what you did on AMazon again to get upto $10m
  • Did $36m in 2016 and got banned on Amazon in 2017 and still did $40m+ in 2017 even with the ban
  • Amazon is still the advice – the $10-$20m mark was grown to $50-$100m by repeating the success approach
  • Continue to be a student of the Amazon game and challenge you systems and processes

Amazon is…

  • …an amazing opportunity that is getting more difficult

Seller Sessions Live talk

  • Drive keyword ranking without giveaways white hat
  • Whole R&D team now driving tests for keyword ranking to drive sales with no giveaways
  • Do it now before it becomes too expensive and everyone copies

 

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