E13: Casey Gauss: How to go from 1 to 45 employees in 3 years

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About Casey Gauss:

Casey is the founder of Viral Launch. Viral Launch is an online business that helps Amazon Sellers sell more stuff on Amazon.

He dropped out of college when he was 21. At the time, his family was going through a really tough time and were living on his little brother’s pizza-delivery paychecks. So he spent all his time Coding and (after failing a few times) built an Online business which 3 years later has 45 employees.

Episode Summary:

Listen to the full episode on iTunes (and please leave a rating to help the podcast reach more people): E13: Gaussian Transformation: How to go from 1 to 45 employees in 3 years

  • At the end of high school Casey started getting ideas for apps so he started learning how to code in his spare-time.
  • Took online courses and watched YouTube and Codecademy.
  • Started building websites early while learning. This forced him learn everything he needs to know rather than wasting time on fluff like the history of computer science.
  • Overall it’s much better to face reality fast and work with error-correction rather than putting off real life while studying excessively.
  • College was largely a waste of time and money because professors said the opposite of the Fortune 500 CEOs.
  • Dropped out at 21 at his Junior year despite having a track scholarship and good grades.
  • At this time he was on his own and had very little money. His mother had her car repoed and was evicted. His brother was supporting the family with his pizza delivery pay-checks.
  • When he worked from home to build ViralLaunch his brother couldn’t afford heat in Indiana therefore he worked with socks on his hands and a candlelight next to him to keep his fingers warm enough for typing.
  • When he’s in a fight or flight mode he just works harder to reduce the stress.
  • How Casey built an initial email list for ViralLaunch: In November 2014 they got their first 1000 subscribers from a Facebook ad that drove people to a landing page that collects emails.
  • After they hit 1000 subscribers they incentivised their subscribers to invite friends to their email list in exchange for winning an amazon gift card – if they get 200 new subscribers from this campaign. Within 24 hours they got another 3000 subscribers.
  • After a week they had gotten a total of 7,000 subscribers.
  • In 3 months they had around 10,000 subscribers.
  • Now they have 400,000-450,000 subscribers.
  • The incentive to join the email list: 80-90% discount on amazon products. (This incentive has a two-fold purpose: To build the email list but also to drive traffic to products they want to rank fast for their clients).
  • Why the incentive works: Because it’s almost too good to be true. That’s why people can’t stop inviting their friends.
  • Now they don’t focus much on growing the list anymore since the opportunity cost is too high. The list grows by itself with 1000-2000 subscribers per week.
  • Current company focus: Help brands become successful on Amazon by utilising their email list and software. ViralLaunch offers software tools to identify profitable markets, good keywords and to analyse competitors.
  • By utilising their email list and software tools, they help brands rank on amazon. How high you want to rank depends on how much you want to spend.
  • How to rank a product on Amazon: Sales drive keyword rankings on amazon.
  • ViralLaunch utilise their email list to promote big discounts on their client’s amazon products. This drives a lot of fast traffic to their clients’ products. That traffic converts at avery high rate into sales because the products are 80-90% off. This in turn makes the clients’ products rank very high in Amazon since sales drive keyword rankings. After the 80-90% discount period is over the clients can raise their price and thereby make big profits over the medium-long term. ViralLaunch, the client and the email subscribers all win. In other words, their business provides a lot of value to everyone and that is why their business is so successful.
  • The barrier of entry on most Amazon products continues to increase each year however it’s still not a saturated market.
  • Casey hired a director of talent (HR manager) with huge hiring experience (he hired over 600 people). This helped free up his mind because he used to sit in on all interviews prior to that.
  • On dealing with older employees while being a young leader: Casey is 25 years old so he frames his hiring as follows: You’re coming in to help me fill in the areas where I’m deficient and help mentor me there. I have a lot to learn and you can teach me about some of the things you have mastered.
  • Casey fired 7 people so far. The reason is most commonly because they’re not self-aware and thereby cannot make the change necessary to fit into the company.
  • 3 tools to manage employees: Paylocity to schedule holidays and pay employees. Blip to communicate. Zoom for group calls.
  • Personal life: No time outside viral launch.
  • Tries to read a couple of hours per day but not books. Instead he listens to podcasts, audiobooks and reads a lot of articles about specific things he needs to know. Doesn’t read books much because he wants to get to the core of the information he needs fast and that is usually best done by finding specific articles that cover what you need to know.
  • If you can pick up big ideas and implement them fast you don’t need to read books.
  • You can infer the details after you’ve built a good mental model around a certain topic.
  • Isn’t a person of systems. Misses meetings, triple books meetings, forgets eating. Has an executive assistant that takes care of all his organisation and systems.
  • How to decide on new product developments: Identify pain points of customers rather than focusing on how much money X thing can make. Then create tools to fix those pain points.
  • How to move faster: Make decisions, operate on good enough and then course correct from there.
  • ViralLaunch puts out tools at good enough rather than perfect because the opportunity cost of perfecting is high.
  • Optimisation is bad work because it implies you’re making small tweaks and getting focused on the details to tweak revenue 5-15%.
  • With good enough you can do 20% of the work to get 80% of the results and 2-3X your revenue. Then you can grow the team so you can eventually focus on the details on the good enough things.
  • To grow quickly you have to make sacrifices in other areas.
  • E.g. you may need an extra customer service person but instead you put out a tool fast, 2-3X your revenue and then hire 4 customer service people right after.
  • Focus on the aggregate. If you can solve 80% of customer’s problems fast and then take care of another 18% within 2 weeks then that’s OK.
  • In programming you have to anticipate every scenario. This has helped him in business.
  • Naturally he’s not a dominant person but he had to change himself to be a leader.
  • What would he do if not viral launch? Something with software because it’s scaleable.
  • Is not overconfident naturally and that’s a good thing because a lot of big business decisions that end up ruining a company are often a result of overconfidence.
  • You can find most of the things you need to achieve the skills you need to be the person you want to be for free or at an affordable price online. So there’s no excuse to not start taking action today.

– Oskar Faarkrog

We are right now creating the Future Skills Program which will be an online video course covering decision making and risk management with weekly homework and evaluations.

* Why decision making and risk management? Because better decisions and risk management equal better finances, better relationships and an overall better life.

* Decisions are the foundation of everything you do and the outcome you eventually get.

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  1. “ViralLaunch, the client and the email subscribers all win.” But other Amazon sellers, Amazon buyers (and possibly Amazon itself in the long term) lose. It’s a negative sum game and value is being removed, not added. The amount that people spend in total, or even on Amazon in particular, is not likely to be increased, and consumers are misdirected to less rewarding purchases by distorting the information they receive.

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