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How ITProTV Went from a Brick & Mortar to $9M SaaS Business – with Tim Broom [150]

Tim Broom ITProTV
Tim Broom is the co-founder and CEO of ITProTV, a subscription-based learning site for IT Professionals. The company provides an easy and entertaining approach to IT training. Content is broadcast live every day and available on-demand.
 
The founders launched the business in 2012. They started out with a few authorized brick and mortar' training centers. But over time, they sold that business and went all in with their new SaaS startup.
 
Based in Gainesville, Florida, ITProTV has been self-funded from day one.

This is a story about two guys who were running brick and mortar computer training centers. They spent many years building and growing that business.
 
But they realized that a brick and mortar business wasn't going to let them grow as fast enough. And they also wanted to build a recurring revenue business. So they launched a second business called ITProTV to deliver IT training online.
 
It began as a humble startup business on the side. But the founders decided to make a big bet on ITProTV and sold the brick and mortar business.
 
In 4 years, they've built a successful SaaS business that's on track to do $9 million annual run rate this year. And they've grown with very little marketing — or I should say, very little marketing that's worked for them.
 
This is a great story and my guest is a great guy, who's humble and level-headed. He shares valuable lessons he's learned from building a multi-million dollar SaaS business.

Transcript

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[00:12] Welcome to another episode of The SaaS Podcast.

[00:16] I'm your host Omer Khan and this is a show where I interview proven founders and industry experts who share their strategies and insights to help you build launch and grow your SaaS business.

[00:29] This week's interview is a story about two guys who were running a brick and mortar Computer Training Center in Gainesville Florida. They spent many years building and growing that business. But they realized that a brick and mortar business wasn't going to let them grow as fast as they wanted and they also wanted to build a business with recurring revenue. So they launched a second business called ITProTV to deliver online I.T. training. It began as a humble startup business on the side. But eventually the founders decided to make a big bet on ITProTV and sold the brick and mortar business. In 4 years, they've built a successful SaaS business that's on track to do $9 million dollars in annual run rate (ARR) this year and they've grown with very little marketing. Or I should say, very little marketing that's worked for them.

01:25 This is a great story and my guest is a great guy who's humble and very level headed. In his interview, he shares his story and the lessons that he's learned along the way to building an almost eight figure a year SaaS business. So I hope you enjoy it. Before we get started I'd love to send you my FREE Productivity Toolkit which will teach you the habits, hacks and tools used by successful founders and entrepreneurs. So if you'd like to get a copy just head over to thesaaspodcast.com, that's thesaaspodcast.com. OK, let's get on with the interview.

[02:02] Today's guest is the co-founder and CEO of ITProTV, a subscription based learning site for I.T. professionals. The company provides an easy and entertaining approach to I.T. training which is broadcast live every day and is also available on demand. The founders launched the business in 2012. They originally started out with a few authorized brick and mortar training senses which they sold and went all in with a new startup built around a SaaS business model.

[02:39] The company is based in Gainesville Florida and has been self-funded from day one. So today I'd like to welcome Tim Broom. Tim welcome to the show.

[02:48] Thank you Omer I appreciate you having me.

[02:51] I always like to start by asking what motivates my guests So what is it for you what gets you out of bed everyday to work on your business.

[03:01] Well I tend to be a guy that gets out of bed early we get up about five o'clock every day. And what I always think about and the thing that motivates me is as I go back to the early days where I discovered Simon Sinek and the “Start with Why”. It really made an impact on me and our family and the way that we want to operate you know the business for our team. You know why we do we do what we do and it's to help others and improve you know empower them to do things in their lives to help improve.

[03:34] Ok so I gave the audience a little bit of an overview of ITProTV but can you can you explain to them in your own words a little bit more about what the business is what what are you what's the problem that you're trying to solve.

[03:49] ITProTV, the easy way to explain it is where like the Netflix for I.T. learning and that it's a very low subscription price either per month or per year you get access to an entire library of I.T. training videos and for like 15/16 years we ran a brick and mortar training center that was an authorized Microsoft offering Cisco vendor authorized type training where single courses might be two or three thousand dollars or someone was wanting to enroll to change careers or be you know $20,000 to $25000. What we do is provide all of that content with that same type of training that they received in the authorized training world with the same you know certified trainers that are now educators that ITProTV on video we're now bringing that to everyone. And some of the pains that we discovered back in the brick and mortar days that there were very few content providers and the people that created the content they really weren't really fast when there was new technology and we needed content for it for our customers or when content needs to be updated.

[04:55] And that's what led us to one of our values of creating new content everyday. So we want to have a robust library that stays up to date so people know and trust that it's a trusted source and that it's good content and it is up to date.

[05:10] And we really felt that that was missing in the marketplace.

[05:14] OK. So two questions come to mind immediately. One is you guys put an emphasis on entertaining as well as as educational content. So what is it that you do to make the content entertaining. And you know I kind of wonder about that because that topic in terms of I.T. training doesn't necessarily lend itself naturally to entertainment.

[05:40] Right. The easiest way I would describe as we bring personality to information we are, nothing is scripted. It is spoken just like it would in an instructor led class. There's an outline that we followed to make sure that we cover everything that's complete.

[05:54] But what we do we had on video is difficult and you see you know like other people that might do training videos they'll do like a voice over desktop where you're looking at the screen and you hear a voice.

[06:05] What we do is have full HD production videos where there's a host and the subject matter expert and they have dialogue back and forth and they ask questions so it's more conversational similar to that instructor led training experience because there are lots of advantages of being in the classroom. One of the advantages might be where the student next to you ask your question that you haven't thought of yet and you might not think of it until next week when you're back in the office and the instructor is no longer there.

[06:35] But when we create our content we stream it live and by streaming it live we have people that are in the chat room that are watching it live and they'll ask those questions and the community helps us create better content. Now

[06:48] on the entertaining side we aren't trying to be comedians we aren't telling jokes but just like you might hang out with your friends and you you make a joke or you laugh about something and it's funny because of the personalities with the group that you're in.

[07:03] I think we have a unique group that's been with us for eight to 15 years and they all know each other and they love what they do and they communicate really well and it tends to be kind of humorous and entertaining to see them have a dialogue about a particular subject where they're very effective communicators and bring in that knowledge transfer which is what people really want. And needed.

[07:25] I also want to talk about how you manage to create content every day and how you both in terms of production capability as well as not I guess a lot of people think about when they create content is at some point I'm going to run out of ideas.

[07:43] And so I think we can get we'll get into that a bit later but I want to start back before you had launched this business and when you were running these training senses because I think that's a really good place for us to sort of explore where the idea for this business came from and what led you guys to selling off this or the brick and mortar business and sort of going all in with this SaaS business. Right

[08:14] . As you think about those training centers. From a business perspective every month on the first of the month you started you know on your sales board with zero. So you had zero sales and you had to create your sales for that particular month.

[08:29] So a lot of times the emphasis was more on sales than it was about the technology and the people that you're delivering to. And because I enjoy technology and I and I have this passion about wanting to help others and help empower them through learning that tends to be a frustrating experience and it was also very expensive. What we do what we did in the training days and what we wanted to do was offer the best experience possible. But we were somewhat limited. And from a sales perspective I would say we would have 100 conversations with a potential candidate and we would get a single enrollment out of that hundred.

[09:09] But there were 99 other people that were interested in learning something and wanting to improve themselves and get into I.T. but we didn't have the right fit either they weren't close enough to us it was geography or it was too expensive or it might have been a student loan and they were'nt able to get the loan approved. There were many different reasons.

[09:29] And so we really originally started out looking for something for the 99 and I was thinking if we just had a video that we could sell for $99 for A+ that was a good video we can help these people. And you know have another opportunity to serve more. And that's how the idea kind of started.

[09:48] How is the business doing the training senses. I mean I know you kind of talked about the challenge of sort of starting from zero every month and generating sales.

[09:58] But was this a struggling business which made the decision easier to move into the online offering or were you doing okay were you guys comfortable and sort of had a tough decision to make in terms of you know walking away from what you already had we were doing OK we built a pretty good business.

[10:21] You know we won awards, we're growing each year but it became more difficult to operate in an environment where you know the state and the state licensor was was difficult process to go through in the audit. So you would have from the state it became more difficult to deal with the authorized vendors like Microsoft or Cisco to be you know be a gold partner buying their official courseware that was you know outrageously expensive. It just became harder and harder from the vendor side and the delivery side as well as getting the students in to complete the programs because maybe there were long or hard or you know they were driving each way to try to do it. It just became more and more difficult and I didn't think that that growth if you looked at the next three years I didn't think that opportunity was going to be as good as stopping selling that business and starting something new.

[11:19] And they haven't looked back since. Yeah yeah I was going to talk about that. So how did you guys get started.

[11:30] I joke because I think that we were either arrogant or naive to say we're just going to create content ourselves and we had done a little bit of video and and some of our experiences through learning and we kind of set up a video camera in front of a wall and started to create our own content and learn from the mistakes that we were making to try to make it better.

[11:52] And listening to feedback from people so we kind of decided from going from one class that A+ course that I talked about maybe we should have more. And hey listen to this to have a subscription. And how much were people what would the market bear in price. How much would they pay in order to have access to that video content that it was good. So you know we kind of started from that and that's good for business it's tough to start. You know when you're bootstrapping and you don't have any capital raised you're going to go into a negative spin. So I was fortunate that I kind of ran both businesses side by side for about a year and I had one businesses that was one business that was paying the expense of the other basically. And in the first year we had a million in sales. You know at an average of $30 per person per month.

[12:44] Wow. Which is great.

[12:46] And the subscription business second year where I sold the business at the end of that first year the second year we did three million and we did 5.7 last year and we're on track for 9. So we're bootstrapped for four years and then year three I turned profitable and are profitable your date now in year 4.

[13:05] And I think that's what I really want to dig in and sort of help you know our audience here listen a better understanding of what you guys have done to basically go from zero to almost very close to an 8 figure business in a very short space of time.

[13:24] So let's kind of go back to when you kind of created that first course from what I recall.

[13:32] I mean neither you or you co-founded Don like video expert so you had a background in creating content or video production.

[13:42] So this was something new for you guys. So once you sort of initially created this content what did you do. You just put it up on your website and tried to get people to buy.

[13:54] No no we didn't really want the website we just kind of created a video and put it up on Vimeo. And you know I remember going home and watching it on. I would get the Vimeo app on my Roku channel and I would sit on the couch and I would kind of watch the videos every night that were created that day. And then we'd discuss the next day things that were good and you know things that we can improve on. So we were kind of. And we'd create like an entire course and then we would end up redoing the course again. You know the next month or so our DNA was in the brick and mortar type of business. We were teaching a new course every week. So we're used to teaching a course every week.

[14:37] That's what we're used to doing. So we just kind of bring that DNA to creating the content for our sites. So we kind of started that way.

[14:45] To try to improve and then decide to launch. And when we originally launched it's probably the one thing I did that was really smart because we made a lot of mistakes but the one thing I did that was smart is I was inspired back in 1999 to change careers from the transportation business to get into I.T. and it was basically from watching Leo Laporte on the screen savers and my wife told me she goes you know you like watching this guy on TV every night and it drives her crazy. But

[15:14] if that's what you want to do once you do that if you if you want to quit you, quit what you're doing in trucking. So

[15:20] I did. You know now we circle back to wanting to launch.

[15:24] I want to advertise on Leo Laporte on his twit.TV, you know podcast and so I emailed that call. You know no one would take my call. They didn't want me to advertise on because he likes to know who his advertisers are. And I was basically a startup. I don't think that he could kind of put his voice of approval on us because he didn't know us. So Don and I packed up and went to Petaluma and we met him and went to dinner and met his wife Lisa and kind of tell our story and talked about our why and and what we wanted to do.

[16:02] And when I first met him you know he walked up and he goes Hey I understand that you are Mr. Broom you know to kind of as he walks up to me and I said Leo I've been watching you since the late 90s. I need a hug.

[16:12] So you know he gave me a big ol' bear hug and you know it was from that point it was just a special connection. And you know him and Lisa had been good mentors and you know we talk business we talk shop and I continue to advertise and market with him. You know now four years later and from the very first ad that we did it was like October 23rd at the end of 12 we were looking at Google Analytics of the live people on our site as the ad was running had one screen you know running the ad live and had the other screen on the Google Analytics and it was like that UPS commercial where you see 30, 40, 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300. You know we're like jumping up and down screaming because there's so many people that are hitting our site from our first ad and from the very first month I was getting more in credit card sales than I was spending all my advertising so I started cash flowing.

[17:13] I had very few expenses that were real into the new business but my advertising was one and I was collecting more from those advertisements because of what Leo was saying about us. You know there are good guys that have a good product. They're trying to help people you know go support them and his listeners were doing that and they continue today.

[17:34] How were you selling the content on Vimeo and how long did you guys keep doing that before you decide to build your own site.

[17:43] I probably was I part as I was a collector I kind of started talking about that I would watch mimeo but it wasn't for sale. I

[17:50] don't think know had the you know to be able to sell a video back then but I was watching it from my Roku you know sitting on the couch.

[18:00] And the reason I mention that is because that first year we launched on Roku and the very first month before our website was able to take a sail the Roku app launch we had a vendor launch the Roku. But we had no website to take a sail from someone.

[18:19] Couldn't surprise. So we made the decision to make everything on Roku free so everything we had just created all the libraries we created.

[18:25] We made it for free and it was like another two months before our website was able to launch. And then we converted it to selling and we still have about 30 percent of our audience that watches our content on a TV on a Roku or an Apple TV device.

[18:42] And that's one of the major aspects that I think that has helped us because we penetrated into the living room where people feel comfortable it's entertaining.

[18:51] they wanna watch on their TV and I imagine they're much like me that they sit there with a laptop and they'll watch and do and watch and do and just be entertained. I would like to think there's families sitting around learning what we're doing on the TV because it's being streamed.

[19:05] That's a funny not even having a website to be able to take payments. Right. I mean this is about shifting quickly.

[19:14] It was it was about three or four days into it. We've got a support ticket from someone in Canada and they said your website asked for a state but I'm in Canada we don't have states didn't even build into our website to be able to access outside the US. We just weren't thinking that way we're you know we're still small minded like you know the southeast being regional and not international. And today we have members in over 170 countries.

[19:41] Wow. So was the getting the ad running on Leo's show was that the big break the big driver towards getting the million dollars in sales in year 1? No doubt.

[19:57] I would say 70-80% of our sales our subscribers came from Leo's audience.

[20:02] And you know if you think about his audience is that technology enthusiasts people that love technology and they want to learn.

[20:09] And if you look at our format and you know we joked about it but it was kind of true when we went to go visit them we looked at his cameras his equipment his lighting his format. He was obviously successful in the way he did things and we went back and we ordered the trike after we ordered those cameras we ordered you know everything that kind of copy him and we wanted we were inspired going back to the screen savers in the late 90s. So our first studio kind of looked like Leo's set on Tech TV like the screensaver so that look and feel and the discussion about the technology it was very similar to what they had. It's like a show so we call them shows and still do call them shows and episodes even though it's like of course.

[20:52] And when Leo talked about it and he is raving saying that user base they were certainly attractive and have fond memories of those days. And I think they were attracted to us because of it. And Leo gave us like permission saying hey this is cool. I like it. There's

[21:11] like a march to the screen savers and the Tech TV did. And did you start out with a subscription model were you initially selling each separately.

[21:25] We started out with the subscription model and it was video only for $57 a month or $570 per year.

[21:32] And we start we had a small library so we started out with 50% off so it was $28.50 per month or $285 for an annual. And about 85% of the members subscribed for a year. So they prepaid and annual $285 which really helped boost our sales to get to the point of the million.

[21:51] Okay. And so then in year two you did over three million times. So what else did you do. It wasn't just Leo's ads continuing to drive growth in year two as well, was it?

[22:07] Well we are not sophisticated marketers. We could do so much better. And you know we're still learning now and talking to more people that are in the know about marketing. We were just kind of like advertising and Leo was I would still say probably 70 or 80 percent of that growth. We started looking at other podcasts and other audiences trying to replicate that. And what we really discovered was it wasn't that it was advertising on Leo. It was from my world. I don't mean this everywhere but in my world. Leo was like the first social influencer. You know he's like the godfather of technology broadcast but it like you have YouTubers today that are social influencers. Leo has the following and people will listen to what he says in his world of technology. So by him saying that they subscribed, well we have people on YouTube now that do certification training videos on YouTube or they talk about technology and we get a great response from anyone that will say hey these are these are good guys and have a great product.

[23:15] I got certified I passed this test. You know they produce so much good content I can't keep up with it. They tell their friends or they say that marketing or someone tells their friends or they tell their boss you know that's another good story. Is that a mistake that we made is that we were going directly to consumer and not worrying about businesses. But when people would describe themselves they were likely working in I.T. and then they would tell their boss about it and their boss would call me and say hey I have 20 users can you give me a price for 20 users. And I said sure. So I started doing that and then I was getting more than I was getting more and I was like I have like three other jobs too I can't keep doing that. I

[23:57] got to hire a salesperson so I hired a salesperson and then he got busy. And then it needed to and then I needed the manager and now I have five. So you know it's a groundswell of people that discover on their own. And essentially they become social influencers because they tell their boss about it because they're happy with it. So we're kind of serving that growth as opposed to chasing that growth. People tell their friends they tell their boss they're on YouTube because they have a following or someone like Leo that has an audience. That's how we've been able to be successful. Did

[24:29] you do anything else with your marketing other than advertising?

[24:35] I really tried and I spent a lot of money and we do some other technology broadcast. But you know what. It doesn't work. If someone if there's a banner ad or someone just read an ad or you know there's a third party person that records an ad the pre-roll what works is that Omer says I see broke TV I took this course and I learned so much. I had no idea. You talk about your experience. That is what works for us. And then

[25:04] so this cycle seems to be somebody listening to that. We'll go to ITPro.TV they'll check out a course maybe you know make the commitment to sign up for a subscription and get value from that then because of the nature of the content.

[25:24] This is going to be probably an I.T. professional who's going to go back to work and tell their colleagues saw their their manager about it and then you're going to get you know potentially more customers from the same organization coming to you.

[25:39] Correct. And you know if you think about how we designed what we wanted you know the format that casual entertaining engaging format if we started with the user experience first we worked with we worked back to the technology we know what we wanted. We know the pains that we had and what our our customers wanted in the brick and mortar location. So we kind of started with a great product so once users try it they look at it and say hey this is different this isn't a voice over PowerPoint. I kind of like the dialogue is kind of like a live late night show sometimes maybe you know it's entertaining they're funny guys. They have personality.

[26:19] I'm learning and watching more. So I'm learning more and then to get great results. And then they tell someone about it but it starts with having a great product that people like to see.

[26:30] So someone tries it you know odds are they're going to like it and they'll tell somebody how much time do you spend thinking or looking at competitors.

[26:44] Not very much. You know I I check other websites we looked at some of the content but I don't I'm probably not as up on it as I as I should be. I know that the people that run B2B team they tend to be more up on it. They haven't really changed their format. I don't think anybody sees us as a threat. We just might be that annoying mosquito right now. But you know we want to be able to grow and empower more people around the world so we will be a pain in our side shortly I'm sure.

[27:19] Yeah I think because this is not it's a fairly crowded space in terms of what's happening with online training and to some degree you guys have a niche which is a very significant niche around I.T. training. And then as you mentioned not only do you have other sites kind of offer each other offering content but you also have people on YouTube providing I.T. training.

[27:53] Yet when we look at your numbers and your growth you know on track to do $9 million is to be profitable in four years is is pretty remarkable in and why. What I'm trying to get to is what are you doing that resonates with your your customers that they choosing you over the other options that they have out there.

[28:25] I just think that it it's easy to watch.

[28:28] We have good personalities. You know we're humble we're not arrogant like sometimes people might be and I.T. when you see those teachers come in certain times we're just good people. Easy easy to watch. You know our team has been together for a very long time. When you talk about the market size Microsoft says there's 50 million IT pros around the world. We know the shelf life of an I.T. professional is about three years so when you think about the market potential. Yes there's some big players in Lynda linking Lynda and Microsoft and Perl sites, CBT Nuggets you know Skillsoft and some others but there's still a lot of potential to grow.

[29:08] Yeah there's a lot of training to be done with 50 million with a three or shelf life.

[29:13] Yeah I mean I'll share something from kind of my own personal experience that I think I watched in the way it was. I think it was with Don doing some kind of training course but it seemed more like watching a TV show and it kind of underlines what you sort of said in terms of making it conversational and just as if you're there. And I think that's very different because I've tried watching training where it's a combination of you know maybe you see somebody sort of the instructor on on in front of the video. But then most of the time you're looking at slides or you're looking at a screen cast while they're doing something on the computer. And I don't know if it's just me but that stuff makes me fall asleep really quickly. But when you see the sort of the format in terms of which feels more like a show I think it's just different kind of energy there that keeps you more engaged.

[30:20] So you do learn something from Don.

[30:23] I can't remember because I didn't I didn't I didn't watch the whole thing. I think this was when we were kind of doing the research for the train. But yeah I mean I think what what kind of struck me was that this stuff wasn't scripted right.

[30:41] Yes. Don is a super smart guy who a very effective communicator and he is so humble for someone to be so smart he is so humble and that comes away across whenever he communicates to you and he's on camera and he is so good at explaining something that can be very difficult that most anybody can understand.

[31:00] Let's talk about content and how you put that together. And so I kind of mentioned this earlier in terms of how much time does it take to to have a production schedule where you're creating new content every day. And and what's sort of the process you go through to create each new course.

[31:31] OK so that five video production studios and we still have capacity we have studios that aren't being used every day. But if you think about the DNA of us creating or delivering courses and instruction like training it would be like [8:30] to [4:30] Monday to Friday when our host or educators typically do is they'll either be in the morning session or an afternoon session and that's when they'll be in the studio. And the other half day they're creating and organizing and putting their materials together for the next day. So these are subject matter experts that have an area of expertise so they stay within their area of expertise whether it's security it's Microsoft Cisco Linux or whatever that area is and they create. And in studio half today the other half of the day they're organizing and preparing like it might be their labs or displays or our products they use to help explain what they're going to teach the next day. And sometimes they might host someone else's show when they're a subject matter expert which recalls me. So that makes me or host depending on what's going on that week.

[32:43] I like to call them edutainers these these people who who who deliver this training are they full time employees or are you bringing in kind of contractors and sort of third party resources depending on the type of content that you're delivering.

[33:00] I have about 10 or 11 full time employed subject matter experts and I have know full time host also where someone just as professional on camera and they host you know someone show in the morning and the host someone shows in the afternoon and that person doesn't have to be an expert on the technology. They just want to be aware. They're somewhat like the end user. Well I'll ask a pack of questions. But you know they don't has to be an expert.

[33:28] The other thing was like you know I know I know I.T. training is pretty broad. There's a lot of stuff out there but do you guys ever it gets to the point if you create for years you've been creating content on a daily basis that you ever feel like you're running out of ideas so you're kind of going back and just re covering content that you've already produced in the past well you would kind of think that and I think at some point we thought and also we had one studio for a while and then we had another studio that was kind of in it was a small office that we kind of turned into a studio.

[34:01] And last October when we moved to our new facility four or five studios we kind of thought the same thing that we would run out of content. But people like CompTIA and Microsoft and Cisco are always updating their certifications so it allows us to update those courses. And then there's always new courses like pfSense firewalls you can't really get any training on that. But we have a great course on you know on pfense so we can create content for it could be hardware or other product areas of security, cryptography. There's lots of things that we can great continent that we haven't. We haven't run across that yet. What we have done is recreate content that might have been at our old facility because it might be 720p HD and our new facility is you know 10AD And we want everything to look uniform in our new studios in 10AD so we can have the best user experience.

[34:55] I'm kind of looking back at the sort of the trajectory of your business from the day where you know you and Don decided you know we're going to kind of create this content going to put a camera up against the wall and start recording stuff.

[35:10] You've got you had a lucky break with Leo Laporte show in that helped drive you getting a million dollars in sales in the first year. You know 3 million 5.7 million the year after and no on trial for 9 million. So and you haven't done much marketing right. It's just being some advertising in and sort of the virality I guess of the content in terms of when people use this to gain back to their companies and telling other people about it.

[35:44] For the most part it does. I mean I do spend a lot of money.

[35:47] It does it does cost a lot of money because we're always trying new things trying to replace Leo but we just haven't been real successful outside of a little bit of social influence or stuff.

[35:56] It sounds too easy. All right so what you know you've made mistakes and we've we've talked about them sort of you know off line but what can you share with the audience to help them sort of understand that this wasn't just you know smooth sailing from from day one to where you are now.

[36:16] Well it was like the 17 year overnight success because there were a ton of mistakes that we made in the first 15 years in our previous business and it was things like leading a team you know me developing and becoming a leader of the organization and how and how to grow and manage people and motivate people inspire them.

[36:39] You know all of those lessons I was I went through a phase to where at first I thought I knew everything and then I kept making mistakes and I was learning from my mistakes. And then I decided I wanted to stop learning from my mistakes and start learning from someone else's mistakes. And that's where I actually became a student of leadership. And you know Jim Collins “Good to Great” took our entire organization to read that book and we talked about it about how to be better. We went through Tony's, Tony Hsieh book “Delivering Happiness” and that book made such an impact on us that we took 19 of our team members out to Vegas to do the two day class at Zappos on customer service. So you know we would learned things along the way that when we started ITProTV we said OK this is like a reset button we want to do it right we want to hire for culture first make sure that we protect our culture and my number one most important thing that I do every day is to take care of my team.

[37:40] My team is most important to me. A happy team will take care of our customers and my customers will take care of the company by continuing to buy the product.

[37:50] And that took a long time for me to understand that and to trust it and to live by that. But that's what I try to do every day.

[37:58] Looking back over the last four years in terms of building ITProTV Is there.

[38:04] Is there anything that sort of stands out in terms of something you wish you had done differently.

[38:09] I think there were some opportunities that we didn't take advantage of like never anticipating that we could sell to businesses or corporations. We were just advertising direct to consumers.

[38:09] Selling outside of the US.

[38:25] We didn't start selling businesses you know until like the past year and a half ago two years ago and now we have a sales team of five plus a manager and I have customers that are calling us.

[38:36] You know I have some some large organizations some universities very prominent universities that are subscribing with us. And you know we're thankful and we're grateful for that. But imagine if I started two years earlier where we could be how many more people could we empower through knowledge and experience.

[38:54] So what's next for ITProTV What are you focused on right now.

[39:00] I think last I kind of went through that again another little lesson learned is I see the growth that we have and I see the opportunity and the profitability that we have. And I wanted to take care of my team. So last December I rolled out a like a profitability bonus plan that if we achieved a certain profitability they would get bonuses. You know each quarter and in the first quarter we didn't hit the number that we needed in order for them to get a bonus. And I took that as the leader as what did I do wrong. I let my team down and I started analyzing the money that I was spending all my expenses and trying to say you know what can I do in the second quarter to make sure that I take care of my team when they hit their goals and they get that bonus. And I realized that I was making investments in things that won't have a positive effect on revenue until 2018. And essentially it would harm my business to be 20 percent profitable at the stage we're at right now.

[39:59] I don't need to be 20 percent profitable. I need to continue to invest in marketing and as I would say shouting you know our voice out there so people can hear us because they'll respond.

[40:12] So the opposite of being 20 percent profitable is making a significant investment in marketing. So we went through this exercise of deciding that we were going to seek a capital raise that is essentially for marketing and sales teams and development work on our website and getting the message out more and having a louder voice. So that's really the next phase. And with an investment like that I don't want to see it as unlimited but we could be a SaaS business that could provide a double double double gross and then you're looking at you know 40, 50 million and it's more competitive with the people that are the most popular right now.

[40:55] Yeah yeah totally.

[40:56] And I think the fact that you've already shown that type of growth and more in the last few years is is certainly strong evidence that you can continue to do that if not better with the right kind of you know focus on an investment in marketing.

[41:17] And we've been fortunate that we've had a great response.

[41:21] Unsolicited responses from you know dozens of people that are reaching out to us because they're taking notice of us and we haven't even you know announced or anything that we're going to be seeking you know investment or putting our deck out. So we're excited about the kind of people that are calling us wanting to help us and they're bringing the sphere of influence into this knowledge when it comes in the areas of SaaS businesses and marketing that you know we're super excited about what the opportunities could be. Again

[41:50] I go back to magic if we could empower a hundred or 200,000 people around the world by learning more that that's an amazing opportunity for just a group of people in Gainesville Florida. You're right.

[42:07] All right. It's time for our Lightning Round. I'm going to ask you seven questions just try to answer them as quickly as you can.

[42:15] OK. Perfect. All right. Let's go.

[42:17] What's the best piece of business advice that you've ever received?

[42:23] Focus on. Focus on your customer focus on your members.

[42:26] What book would you recommend to our audience and why?

[42:32] “Start with Why”. It was really the first book that made a turnaround for me personally to discover and find out your why. And if you know your why everything in your world changes. You know people don't buy what you do about why you do it. Simon said it is amazing.

[42:48] I like to stalk him. He's an amazing guy.

[42:50] What's one attribute or characteristic in your mind of a successful entrepreneur?

[42:55] Integrity somebody who puts other people's first. I think you do what you say.

[43:01] What's your favorite personal productivity too or habit?

[43:06] I apologize. I'm drawing a blank on that one.

[43:12] Name a productivity tool or habit. Yeah like how do you get stuff done every day.

[43:15] I have I surround myself with super smart people.

[43:19] You know I'm one of those guys that subscribes to the fact that the CEOs would be the dumbest guy in the room and you surround yourself with smart people and you know they help keep me going.

[43:32] What's a new crazy business idea you'd love to see if you had the extra time?

[43:36] I have it but I can't say it because we're actually might be doing it.

[43:40] It's going to be awesome. What's an interesting or fun fact about you that most people don't know?

[43:49] I'm probably an entertainer at heart with no talent.

[43:52] I've been known to you know get on stage and karaoke.

[43:56] We used to make these like lip sync videos in high school and it was kind of crazy stupid. But looking back now back then and we thought we were cool. But I love to entertain and make people laugh.

[44:08] I just don't have any talent I can't sing I can't dance for anybody but me.

[44:13] And finally what is one of your most important passions outside of your work?

[44:18] Definitely. I would say my kids my family definitely that. And from there I became a private pilot about five or six years ago. And I so enjoyed flying. It's just beautiful. It's calming it's it's easy. It's much better than driving a car and having fun in traffic. And it's a lot of fun. So family first and I've got three girls twins that are 14 and a 15 year old all girls and outside the family it's flying.

[44:49] Awesome. Tim it's been a pleasure catching up with you again. Thank you for joining me today.

[44:55] If people want to check out ITProTV they can go to ITPro.TV and if they want to get in touch with you what's the best way for them to do that?

[45:07] They're going to shoot me an email tim [at] ITPro [dot] tv. I answer all my e-mails that I get. Awesome. I appreciate the opportunity. I'm grateful to talk about our passion at ITProTV and I appreciate you reaching out. And you know I've been able to do this. Thank you.

[45:22] Yeah and it was my pleasure. I really enjoyed this. I look forward to staying in touch with you.

[45:27] You guys wrote an amazing trajectory here and I truly wish you all the best for the future.

[45:34] Thank you for that. Thank you. Cheers Tim.

45:38 All right thanks for listening. I really 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 the episode then head over to iTunes and subscribe to the podcasts. And also consider leaving a rating in review if you're in a good mood. If you're not already you know choose right now just head over to theSaaS podcast.com and click the iTunes button. Thanks for listening. So next time take care.

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Omer Khan

Omer is an entrepreneur, consultant, coach & podcast host. He’s the founder of ConversionAid & helps companies to build, launch and grow great SaaS products & businesses. Learn more