This is part VII of the Success Interview Series
Neil is very well known in the internet marketing and online world with a long list of accomplishments and honors to his name:
- Named one of the top web influences by the Wall Street Journal
- Named one of the top entrepreneurs in the US by Entrepreneur Magazine
- Recognized as one of the 100 entrepreneurs under age 30 by President Obama
- Received Congressional recognition for his contribution to the non for profit sector
- The creator of two massive guides: The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing and Advanced Guide to SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Jennifer: I have a very interesting guest today.
His name is Neil Patel and he is the co-founder of KissMetrics, Crazy Egg, and he is also a very successful blogger at Quicksprout.com where he blogs about his different insights on entrepreneurship, business and also his own view on life in general.
Neil: Yeah. Thank you for having me.
Jennifer: No problem. Just a starter question Neil, tell us a little bit about your background. Do you have any kind of personal interest, something that we didn’t have a chance to know about you?
Neil: Sure. I love basketball. I am a big Lakers fan but they are not doing too well this year, so.
Jennifer: Great. Anything else?
Neil: That’s me, Neil. I love spending time with my friends. I love the non-profit sector.
I am a big believer if the non-profit sector took well a lot of the students in the start-up world and put it to non-profit sector they’d be much more successful.
So I try to help them become a lot more lean and more agile and more…
Jennifer: Because I do know where you got some kind of Congressional recognition for your contribution to the non-profit sector. Are you still doing any kind of mentoring for entrepreneurs at the moment or you’re too busy?
Neil: Too busy, I very rarely do mentoring for entrepreneurs these days.
Jennifer: Oh okay, I see. So another question is like, you are running a lot of like two start-ups at the same time. Like Crazy Egg and KissMetrics and you are also writing blog posts for Quicksprout.com and you are also an advisor for a lot of different start-ups.
So how did you find the time to do all these things very successfully? Like, what is your insight on creating, like, time managements?
Neil: [Inaudible 00:01:59] a lot of hours. That’s my key.
Seven days a week, no vacations and have an assistant to help you out.
Those are the, really my main key. I just work a lot of hours, like 8:00 AM to 10:00-11:00 PM every day.
Jennifer: Wow! You haven’t taken a vacation recently? Just to take a break?
Neil: Not once in 10 years.
Jennifer: Oh my God! But you’re very passionate about your job, right, because that’s how you…
Jennifer: Manage to do all these different, so many things in your career.
Neil: When you love what you’re doing you don’t really care about how much time it takes or anything like that because passion overrides the “Oh I’m tired, I’m exhausted I want to quit”
Jennifer: Yeah, or I want to take a break. I want to go to Hawaii or any kind of beach related kind of places. So, awesome, and do you have any insights on how you have so many different passions like doing blogging, doing search engine optimisation, and also your, be involved in doing software development for KissMetrics and Crazy Egg?
Neil: Sure. So, I don’t focus on the development side.
My business partner does, but if you looked at all the companies, they all revolve round the marketing space.
My passion is around marketing. So SEO is related to analytics, right? So everything is around marketing which is my main passion.
Jennifer: So, I see. So, it’s more the marketing aspect of the business that you are passionate about.
Neil: That’s correct.
Jennifer: So, what kind of lessons did you learn throughout these six years of being an entrepreneur? Because you have been successful starting your own business since you were age 16, right?
Neil: Yes, so the big lesson I learnt is always focus on one business.
I used to try and do too many things at once.
Now I just focus on KissMetrics that’s it.
I blog on my spare time but I don’t do anything else.
So, any other businesses like Crazy Eggs all that kind of stuff, it’s not me running them someone else is running them full time.
Jennifer: So you’re not involved in Crazy egg anymore, just the. . .?
Neil: I still own it but, I’m still one of the co-founders. There is a management team who runs it right now.
Jennifer: So that actually frees up a lot of time and let you focus more on KissMetrics and Quicksprout.
Neil: That’s right.
Neil: So that’s one big thing.
The second big thing is never start a business because you love something, you have to love it and you have to solve a problem.
You need to do those two things.
If you can’t solve a big enough problem for the market place you are not going to be in business for long.
The third thing that I’ve really learned is timing and execution is everything, move really fast, being lean following the lean start-up philosophy is because the slower you move, someone’s going to go out there, copy and they are going to overtake you.
Jennifer: Is that what happened at one of the former companies? I remember you were speaking at a conference and you were saying that one of the web hosting companies that let you lost a lot of money. What was the problem?
Neil: That’s right.
I lost like a million bucks on a web hosting company years ago when I was like 21.
I lost it because they weren’t executing fast enough. Good idea bad people.
I didn’t invest in good people and we just couldn’t get out there fast enough, right?
Neil: There’s a lot of good ideas out there.
But if you can’t get something out there quick, you can’t get it to the market, you won’t succeed.
Jennifer: I see, that’s great lessons especially for us people who are just starting out in life and want to own their own company. So, is there anything else that you would like to do differently? Let’s say if you have a chance to start over again, would you want things to be different or would you be just feel that everything happens for a reason, makes who you are right now?
Neil: Yeah. I think, if I had to start over I would do things differently I would focus on one business at a time and try to create something really big.
But everything in life happens for a reason, right?
Jennifer: So that means that you feel that somehow everything has been contributing to who you are right now?
Neil: That’s correct.
Jennifer: Awesome. So, how do you feel about, like, have you…any long term goals right now for KissMetrics or for your own personal achievements? Is there anything you would like to…?
Neil: Yeah, the main thing right now is no real goals other than to keep doing what I’m doing and help other people succeed, right?
Like, I love getting emails from other entrepreneurs saying, “Yeah, I use KissMetrics or I read your blog and I saw excellent results because of it.
I really want to thank you”, like that’s what makes my day.
That’s what makes me smile.
Jennifer: So it’s the customer satisfaction coming in. Yeah. Can you give us more details about how KissMetrics is much more different that, for example, Google Analytics or the other analytics companies?
Neil: Sure. So, most of them out there like Google tell you what happened with your websites
Neil: What browsers people are using, time on site all that kind of stuff and what they didn’t really…What they can’t tell you is who did what.
So, for example, if you come to KissMetrics or you come to Amazon it can’t tell you, “Hey, you first signed on Amazon from TechCrunch.
Here is your name and it’s Jennifer, and Jennifer signed up for a product. She almost did a checkout process.
We have her name but she didn’t complete.
Then she came back from an email campaign, she didn’t buy and then she actually found us via Yahoo and then she converted into a customer, can’t show you the whole life circle.
And it can’t show you, hey, show me all the real people who are like Jennifer who didn’t buy but we have their email address and you can start sending out emails and getting…
Neil: But that’s the big thing. What we really focus on is solving problems.
Neil: Solving problems and you can’t really solve a lot of these problems unless you are actually tracking the person.
Because it’s like, you can say, hey, we got all these visitors. X didn’t go through the checkout process.
Neil: But how do you solve that unless you know who is not going through and how you can get back in touch with them and stuff like that.
Jennifer: So you’re basically much more detailed and more precise than the other analytics that’s currently in the market.
Neil: Yeah, it’s kind of like a mixture of analytics and business intelligence into one solution.
Jennifer: But what about someone that, kind of, access the same website from two different computers, would they still be able to see that this is the same exact person and not two different individuals or you know?
Neil: That’s correct. So we can actually not just show you it is from, usually it can show you mobile devices, computers, desktop apps, we can all tie it into one person.
Jennifer: That’s amazing. What kind of expansion are you going to have for KissMetrics in terms of the features or any kind of new developments that you are going to do for KissMetrics?
Neil: Sure. Right now we are handing in our new revenue reports so we are trying to make them even more actionable.
Like, we want to do stuff that can tell us if you are a subscription based business.
We want to be able to give you reports saying here are all the people who are most likely to cancel and churn.
So that way you can actually have your sales guys engage with them, or you could send them emails, whatever.
Neil: But we are trying to get into much more predictive behaviour so that way you can actually make more adjustments to your business versus just looking at reports all day.
Jennifer: So, is that the reason why KissMetrics pricing is a bit more on the high end compared to Crazy Egg, because I believe Crazy Egg has a more…?
Neil: That’s correct. In Crazy Egg it’s more of a simple solution, right, it just makes your website more usable, and that’s all it does and it works great.
But the goal is not to make that solution solve 20 problems. It’s just to do one problem.
While KissMetrics is supposed to help you as a business so you don’t have to build your own custom analytics solutions to solve your own problems.
Jennifer: I see, I see. That’s amazing. That’s like complement each other, like, Crazy Egg and KissMetrics. KissMetrics is providing you more data that you can use to improve your conversions and sales.
Neil: That’s correct and then Crazy Egg makes your website more usable.
Jennifer: I see. Is there any kind of, how do you call it? If someone buys a package or a kind of Crazy Egg or KissMetrics, instead of just kind of plan available where they get like both packages at the same time or they have to go to different websites to get that?
Neil: That’s right. They had to go to different sites, two separate companies so they have to actually go out there and bite to an individual.
Jennifer: What about Kiss Insights? Are you still involved in this particular aspect? Because I remember you have been talking about this on your blog how people can use Kiss insights to get more, the quantity data?
Neil: So, I’m not really involved in Kiss Insights much at all. We sold it.
Neil: Now called Qualaroo, to a good friend of ours Sean Ellis. He is doing a great job with it and I can’t wait to see what he has in store.
Jennifer: I see. Okay. Let’s shift our gear a bit from talking about the company that you’re currently owning but also on the side of, you have been very successful, right? You have been interacting with a lot of successful individuals either within the software industry or just in general, right? What do you think what makes them successful, in the first place? What kind of attitudes do you think makes them stand off from the crowd, so to speak?
Neil: So, the company or entrepreneur?
Jennifer: I think both. Like successful individuals
Neil: Sure. So, what makes people successful individually is they are scrappy; they do whatever it takes to succeed.
Jennifer: Hustling, right?
Neil: Yeah, they hustle like they move fast.
Execution is very important.
They are really good with their dollars unlike numbers because you needed like actually not just save on costs.
Neil: You need more actions and no emotions.
Do what the numbers say is best assuming you’re still ethical.
And then the other thing is like they really, they surround themselves with smart people.
Good entrepreneurs know that you should always hire people smarter than you.
They’ll try to build a great company culture, hire people who are smarter than them and just try to build a team that is passionate about solving a problem.
And as for the company it goes into very similar points as well, right, so.
Jennifer: Yeah. And this is also very obvious, right, because you always mention on your blog surrounding yourself with successful individuals, mentors, people who are much smarter than you are. So I think that’s the key to being successful in general.
Neil: Yeah. And then you also need a lot of mental strength and the reason I say that is because entrepreneurship is like a roller coaster.
There’s a lot of ups and downs and fun parts and scary parts.
A big emotional roller coaster and mentally you have to be able to handle the emotions as well as stress.
Jennifer: Well, I can imagine especially when you mentioned you lost a million dollars in one of your firms. I was like, “Oh God! That’s a lot of money. How do you have such a high risk tolerance for losing that kind of money?
Neil: Yeah. I have extremely high risk tolerance though.
Jennifer: Yeah, but you actually make it back soon with your other ventures.
Neil: Yeah, hopefully you make it back ; I was lucky.
Jennifer: I see. Any projects you are working on for this year in 2013?
Neil: Just KissMetrics. No other projects planned.
Jennifer: Just improving and expanding what’s currently at KissMetrics, right?
Neil: That’s correct.
Jennifer: I see. And what about…Are you thinking of writing a book in the future? Because I know a lot of bloggers out there have somehow transition from being a blogger only to being an author or a bestselling author. Have you ever thought about putting your insights, your experience into a book form?
Neil: Yeah, I can’t talk about it much but something will get released next year, so.
Jennifer: So definitely something is going to happen?
Neil: Yeah. I’ll end up writing a book.
Jennifer: Oh awesome! Would it be more like a combination of business and your own personal, more personal memoir like talking about?
Neil: It will just be general advice for business and the corporate world.
Jennifer: Yeah. Anything related to SEO for now? Just not really?
Neil: No, not really. It’s all just totally separate but it will be fun. I’m writing with a few other guys, so.
Jennifer: Plus, you have a huge advanced guide to SEO on your blog already so I guess there is really no need for you to write a book, all of that right?
Neil: That’s correct. Because if I’ve done that. I already wrote a lot of it.
I don’t know what else I would put on there. And that was I think like 45,000 words.
Jennifer: It’s huge. I don’t know how much, maybe you spent like a lot of time writing that kind of thick kind of detailed guide on the SEO. How to improve your search engine optimisation.
Neil: Yeah, and then next week comes out a big guide; it’s like 40,000+ words again. It’s called the Advanced Guide to Content Marketing.
Jennifer: Wow! How did you find the time to write all that, though?
Neil: In airplanes. I can write really fast. I can usually write at least 1,000 to 2,000 words within an hour.
Jennifer: Oh okay, so you already have the ideas and you just need to put it in. I mean, I haven’t seen any kind of that detailed guide before on search engine optimisation, so I was very surprised that you have been able to bring out such a very valuable guide on the market.
Neil: Thank you, yeah.
Jennifer: Yeah. So my last question before we wrap up Neil. So, is there anything else you’d like to talk about success in general, what kind of advice you would give to someone who wants to start it out and come to you and ask for advice? Like what would you say to him or her?
Neil: Just make sure you pick something you are really passionate about and go out there and solve a problem.
Don’t look for people to help you out with getting started because if you can’t know how to get started on your own then you’re not going to succeed because that’s the easiest part.
Jennifer: I see.
Neil: So, go out there and get something up and running and then just see what happens and keep learning and iterating.
Jennifer: Okay. Thanks so much, Neil, for having me.
Neil: No problem.
Jennifer: For your time. I really appreciate it.
Neil: Thank you for having me.
Jennifer: Thank you. Bye.