BIO: Taylor Ryan is an American entrepreneur and a 6x startup founder with 13+ years of marketing and startup experience spread across 10 industries within large and small organizations.
STORY: Taylor wanted to be financially independent straight from uni, but he graduated at the height of the economic crisis so that he couldn’t get a job. While networking, he met two guys who invited him to join their e-commerce startup in the food-tech niche. He joined them, and they created a fantastic platform but barely made any sales. Their mistake was creating a platform that no one needed.
LEARNING: Talk to your ideal customer to find out if there is a need for your product. Make sure that you have monthly financial statements for your startup.
“There’s a ton of people selling products that there is no market for and without speaking to customers.”
Taylor Ryan is an American entrepreneur living in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is a
6x startup founder with 13+ years of marketing and startup experience spread across 10 industries within large and small organizations. His current projects include:
- ArchitectureQuote – Saas platform for architects
- Klint – Creative digital marketing and growth hacking agency
- https://growthsecrets.org/ – Online digital marketing course
- https://TaylorRyan.io/ – Public speaker, workshops, and innovation consulting
Worst investment ever
Taylor graduated in December of 2008 at the height of the economic recession. He had always been super ambitious, so he was ready to start making some money after school. Unfortunately, nobody was hiring, and despite all his best efforts, he kept getting doors slammed in his face.
Going the business route
Taylor realized that he had to build his own business to get a chance at making real money. He bounced around for the better part of two or three years with guys that he admired from afar. Then he started working underneath them, but he did not like it much.
Taylor found himself doing two to three networking events a week, and in one, he ran into some guys that were planning to start an e-commerce startup in the food-tech niche. The duo had this exciting concept of building an online platform that would allow anybody with a food allergy to find new and interesting food items that would enable them to enjoy all their favorite foods without getting an allergy.
Joining the tag-team
Taylor thought that the concept was pretty okay and so he agreed to join the duo. In about eight months, they had built a complete platform with close to 1,500 products on sale. Then they made an app for iOS and Android to allow people to discover and order new items.
The elusive financial independence
The three partners believed that this venture would be their bridge to financial independence. Unfortunately, this would not be. Even though they had a superb idea, people did not buy into it for one reason; nobody wanted to pay extra for shipping for stuff they could buy at the supermarket and food markets.
Taylor only got to learn this after talking to several people who had signed up on the platform but were yet to make a purchase.
Do your research before you hit the market
Do your market research in advance. Taylor advises entrepreneurs to talk with ideal customers and get a feel for whether they will like what you want to sell. He admits that he should have spent at least a month or a few weeks talking to 50 or 100 people that would buy from him in the future.
You do not have to build everything from scratch
When building a startup, you learn so much at breakneck speed. One important thing you learn is to be open to working with others instead of making it yourself. Hire the best to help you build your startup.
Top startup failures
Over time, Andrew has been able to classify some of the biggest mistakes startups make as attested to by his guests. These are:
- Bad hiring decisions
- Poor management of time and people
- Ineffective teamwork and collaboration
- Waiting too long to start selling
- Weak accounting and finance
- Low product quality
Have monthly financial statements
Make sure that you have monthly financial statements. If you can do that every month, you will be able to eliminate almost 95% of any problems you will face in the world of accounting and finance.
You have to be flexible as an entrepreneur because your product and your brand will evolve. Whatever you are building will pivot or take a completely different trajectory. So be open to such changes.
No. 1 goal for the next 12 months
Taylor’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to continue building scalable products and seeing them succeed.
“You have YouTube and many other resources at your fingertips to find a knowledge base and wealth of information that can get you somewhere.”
Andrew Stotz 00:01
Hello fellow risk takers and welcome to my worst investment ever stories of loss to keep you winning in our community. We know that to win in investing, you must take risk. But to win big, you've got to reduce it. And I bet you're exposed to investment risk right now to reduce it, go to my worst investment ever.com and download the risk reduction checklist I've made specifically for you my podcast listeners. And it's based on the lessons that I've learned from all of my guests. Fellow risk takers, this is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz, from a Stotz Academy, and I'm here with featured guest, Taylor Ryan Taylor, are you ready to rock?
Taylor Ryan 00:47
actually really excited. This is great.
Andrew Stotz 00:49
Yeah, I'm really excited to bring you to the audience. And I'm going to just introduce you right now to everybody. And we have something in common and that we're both American entrepreneurs living outside of America. Taylor Ryan is an American entrepreneur living in Copenhagen, Denmark, is a sixth time startup founder with 13 plus years of marketing and startup experience spread across 10 Industries within large and small organizations. His current projects include architecture quote, which is a sass platform for architects, Clint, which is a creative digital marketing and growth hacking agency, growth secrets.org. It's an online digital marketing course. And finally, you can find him at Taylor ryan.io where you can learn about his public speaking workshops and innovation consulting Taylor, take him in in Philly further tidbits about your life.
Taylor Ryan 01:49
Thank you for the introduction. I mean, so many different areas to go into. But yeah, the main source of income and what I spend most of my time on these days is quince. You can go to club marketing comm it's a growth hacking agency. Growth Hacking is basically like digital marketing. It's kind of a bullshit jargon buzzword that people flop in order to basically Yeah, wrap it in tin foil, call them fat. But it's marketing. And yeah, I've been doing this stuff for ages now. And being in a different country has its own set of challenges in terms of scaling. But now you nailed it with the intro. Thank you.
Andrew Stotz 02:32
And I'm just curious. I mean, I've been living in Thailand for many years. And you've been living in Copenhagen. So you know, it's such a different, you know, those are very different countries. I'm just curious, like, you know, what is some of your, let's just say that there's a listener here that's in the US, an enterprising young man or woman that says, I want to try to live abroad and live that life? What kind of what, what has been your experience? And what advice would you give them? You know, it's,
Taylor Ryan 03:01
it's interesting. So short story. I was on a American reality show called House Hunters International. I don't know if you've ever heard of it or seen it. It's on the home garden channel. It's definitely got a certain demographic that kind of skews a bit older and more chilled out. But yeah, I got a ton of LinkedIn connections after the show aired. And it was a barrage of like you're a douchebag. And also, heck, how did you do that? And the really short answer of how it's done is like you just have to try, right? So I, unlike a lot of the people that I need that are experts here in Denmark, I didn't fall in love with a girl and then make my way over here. It was more, I was just working this crazy amount of hours back in Washington, DC, 12 hour work days. And I got a chance to just travel for a super short period of time to a place like this that has a lot more of that work life balance. And yeah, it blew me away. Like you get 25 days mandatory of paid vacation. That's a month. So yeah, it took me about four months. And it was like having a second full time job of setting up all kinds of interviews targeting automating as much as I could, in order to eventually get two different offers one within Vienna, Austria and one here in Copenhagen, Denmark, leverage the two to get a nice wage. And yeah, within five months of my visit, I was out here working and making a life out of it.
Andrew Stotz 04:39
That's cool. And I have a I'm going to tell you a quick story. And then I'm going to ask you a question in relation to this story. After living in Thailand for nearly 30 years, I thought I pretty much know everything about Thailand, Thai people Thai culture, you know I, if I don't know by now come on. And I when my father passed away, I talked to my Mom, and you know, my sister, my mom and I agreed that my mom would come and live with me here in Thailand. And I thought this, you know, Thai personality type is just so great for taking care of, particularly for elderly people. But there's one little thing I missed. And that is, it's very hard for Thai people to push or encourage an elderly person to, let's say, exercise, just a little bit of resistance, and they're going to back off. And I've learned this kind of lesson now that you know, if that's a challenge, and when you get older, it's hard to exercise. And you do need a little boost. And I think about, there was an angel woman that took care of my mom, for a while when I was back in the US for names and Walker. And, and was just like, Alright, you got to get up, you got to go, mom would be like, I don't want to exercise. And she'd be like, Alright, I'll give you five minutes, I'll give you a back rub. And then let's go. And she just wouldn't let up until my mom, you know, I had to exercise. But it's just like this one little thing that I just kind of missed is that little, little thing, that does make a big difference. So if you're retiring here, and you're healthy, and all that, I think it's great. And if you're retiring here, and you're towards really towards the exact, the serious end of your life, and you just need comfort, it's perfect. But it's that period in between that I just didn't understand. So my question to you, what's something that you now have kind of come to understand that you really misunderstood or you didn't really understand when you first you know, arrived?
Taylor Ryan 06:30
Yeah, I have an answer for this. But it always, it pisses off the Danes to say it, but it's fine. I mean, none of them are listening anyways, or at least, not many. So I miss competent people. And, you know, I came from a place where there was such a motivation to be the best at your craft, or be something in the way of motivated to continue to reach upper echelons of whether it's your own business, or the companies that you're working for. But the spirit of, you know, I have to work hard in order to achieve. There's this really strange thing in psychology, it's called the Dunning Kruger effect. I'm not sure if you're familiar, but I'll explain. So the idea is basically that sometimes the dumbest people in the room think that they're the smartest, just because naturally, they don't know enough about the subject. So therefore, they just proclaim things. Unfortunately, I found that to be the case out here where there are so many people that claim to be experts and things that they never touch. And it's because you have such an amazing balance of life, in terms of working seven hour days, most people roll in, if they have kids rolling in at 930 10 o'clock, leaving at four, and then you know, with your month off, like you don't necessarily have the time to become that amazing, like give your life to this craft type of person. And so what I find is I encounter a lot of people that have reached a really amazing role or are at some leadership, significance, and then you actually sit down with them. And it's like, brah, like you, you are so far removed from reality, like, I love the confidence, but it's bewildering, versus I think, in the States, you have people that really give themselves to their career. And, and that can be also a balance, you know, there can be good and bad and both sides, but the Dunning Kruger effect is real,
Andrew Stotz 08:35
I'm sure that there's plenty of them saying, damn Americans just off work and you know, try to be an expert on this. You know, yeah, but it's, it's a great point. I mean, and it's you know, one of the things about doing this podcast that I've learned is just a different cultures in the way different cultures see things. And, you know, I often talk about the Thai culture, which is not driven by money. That is not what's important at work is relationships. Money is important, but you know, it's not a high priority. So if you walk in and go, we're gonna have a competition for the person who sells the most this and that, you know, that type of thing doesn't motivate them, compared to, we're gonna go out for a weekend to a resort, where we're all going to be together. And it's just such a different thing. So yeah, it's, it's, it's interesting to learn other cultures. And I think the one last thing that I would say is that, particularly China, China was really a challenge for me, I went to do my PhD there, and I was going back and forth between Thailand, and China. And, you know, everything I grew up with about China was, you know, communism, and you know, just this is such a backward come country, and it's just so I was feeling that people were going to be, you know, tied to whipping posts on streets, and you know, whenever, and you know, you just arrive and it's just amazing. And then you see that it's this really, really pretty developed place, particularly the big cities like Shanghai. As an example, but then you also then see all of these customs that are very, very odd and strange. And, you know, you know, maybe gross in some ways for you. And so my challenge to myself when I was in China was like, wait a minute, China has been here for 5000 years as a civilization. You know, if I just walk in here and say that's wrong, that's not the way to do it. I don't do it that way. You know, I just, you just realize that you're just bringing this, this framework, and you're refusing to break out of it. So really, the challenge I find as living abroad is how to, you know, how to step out of your frame, you know, the framework that you're built in, and just observe, you know, you're never going to be able to participate in the way, let's say that a typical person there will, but just observe. And I just find that fascinating. Yeah, I
Taylor Ryan 10:52
think there's a lot of that self awareness that you don't realize until you kind of go back to visit, and you're like, oh, how weird. I used to do all of these other things. I don't do any of those anymore. And then it's like this weird, like, Benjamin Franklin had the same thing where he lived in Versailles for a really long time and came back to Pennsylvania, and was like, Alright, cool. So I'm no longer an American. I'm certainly not French. I'm in this weird kind of in between. and it's bizarre, and I experienced parts of that when I go back every like couple of years. But yeah, I totally get what you mean, there's culture frameworks and schemas that Yeah, a very different.
Andrew Stotz 11:31
Yeah. All right. Well, first of all, it's great getting to know you. And, you know, we have some things in common, and it's fun to talk about. And I know, some of the listeners are saying, like I was when I was 26, I'd finished my MBA, I was working for Pepsi in Los Angeles. And I asked myself, could I make it in Bangkok, Thailand? And I know, there's some listeners out there that are thinking, could I make it? You know, in London, could I make it in Spain? Could I make it in China? And the challenge, really, to the listeners out there who are thinking that is, you know, here's Taylor, as an example, you can do it. So let's move on to the question. And the question of this podcast is very simple. Now it's time to share your worst investment ever. And since no one ever goes into their worst investment thinking it will be. Tell us a bit about the circumstances leading up to it, then tell us your story.
Taylor Ryan 12:29
Sure, let me connect to a different network connection, because I can see I might be going in and out. trip up. No problem. Alright, I'm on a different one now. So hopefully, we're ready to go. Okay, so yeah, the circumstances, I guess I can take a few steps back and lean into it. So I graduated in December of 2008, the height of the economic recession, and I was super ambitious, you know, I think the age of seven or eight is when I first started mowing lawns for money, you know, then you graduate on to raking leaves shoveling snow, then it's like, Okay, what else can I can I really start doing as a kid that's just trying to build something in the way of business and make a little extra money. And ultimately, I see a lot of like parallels between today, with the economic downturn, COVID-19 and 2008. I was ready for anything. And nobody was hiring, especially with somebody that's entry level. And despite all my best efforts, yeah, I kept getting doors slammed in my face. So I realized
that I had
Taylor Ryan 13:46
to build my own businesses in order to really get a chance at making decisions or scaling Something in the way of, you know, revenue and making real money. So I've bounced around for the better part of two or three years with guys that I admired from afar. And of course, then you start working underneath them, and then you're like, shit, like, this is terrible. But it did give me a bit of momentum. And ultimately, I found myself doing two to three networking events a week and ran into some guys that, you know, I don't know about you, but every once in a while you encounter people that you're like, Man, this guy's just really sharp. You know, like,
I missed that.
Taylor Ryan 14:28
I missed the whole thing about networking, and hopefully things will open up again. But I met a couple of guys that were just really bright and they were going in on a e commerce startup that was related to a very hot niche at the time. It was food tech slash e commerce. Gluten Free food was like the big craze. Do you remember? Three It was like that. So they have this interesting concept of building an online platform that would allow anybody with a food allergy. Whether gluten or nuts or whatever the case is to find discover new and interesting food items that would allow them to enjoy all their favorite foods that they maybe can't have or no longer can have due to a food allergy. Fairly. Okay, concept from the outset, I guess. We landed on a main It was called gluten free VIP. Worst fucking name ever. So I'm like, Okay, let's do this. And, you know, it was it was a period of about eight months of building a full platform for transactions, looping together with a number of different vendor portals, to end up getting close to 1500 products on a site, we then ended up building out an app for iOS and Android to allow people to discover new items, and then and then start ordering. And at that point, I guess we were just ready to be, you know, financially independent and just see this rocket ship growth. And the reality is, it wasn't coming in and it never did. And so like, it was one of those really strange things where you start trying to like, reconcile, it's like, but we did everything right. Everything's functional that works. Why isn't anybody buying? And one of the key mistakes that I think we really missed out on was asking people the right questions from the very beginning, and finding out from the people that are going to buy from you whether or not this is something they're going to use. And so one of the conversations that I ended up having, with a couple of people that had signed up over, you know, we were looking at, like, five users a week, like it was really sad, and the number of orders were less. So like, it's not something you're gonna make money on. So I'm sitting down with them. And you know, I'm like, Well, tell me about why you like the platform, like, well, I can find stuff and I can filter. I'm like, cool. So like, would you really use this platform on a regular basis? and be like, Oh, yeah, I mean, it seems great. And I'm like, Okay, well, you haven't logged in in two weeks. So would you actually use this platform? Or are you just telling me that? Oh, no, of course not like I get my spoon from the grocery store. And you guys charge shipping on like, every item? So definitely not? And then there's like this really just sad kind of, Oh, well, yeah, that makes sense. If I had asked those questions, eight months ago, I think I'd be in a much better position to pivot and do something about it. But because we didn't, we burned tons of time, tons of energy, money, of course. And it was something that we never really bounced back from. And after a certain period of time, it turned into a money pit. And everybody writes all these crazy books about how to build a business. Very few people write books about how to disassemble this giant thing that you've burned, eight months, a year, five years into assembling. And, you know, there's, I use a lot of psychology phrases that was originally my background, but you know, it's this sunk cost fallacy, which is the thought that, you know, if you just kept feeding money into something, you can't look at all the money that you've already set in, because that is not representative of what is actually going to amount in into the future. So the idea of like, all this time that I've spent, and all the energy that I put in has no bearing on whether or not this thing is going to be successful. And yeah, it's really tough to separate yourself from that. So VIP was an amazing learning experience. But man, what a waste of time.
Andrew Stotz 18:50
So how would you summarize what you learn from this experience?
Taylor Ryan 18:53
Well, I think I learned some of the really basic stuff of doing your research in advance and research in advance doesn't necessarily mean I don't know like googling just general topic ideas. It means talking with ideal customers, you know, the ideal customer profile types and actually getting a feel for whether or not somebody will actually like that little, one singular word does make a difference. But also, aside from that, I think some of the organizational stuff for anybody that's ever built a start up, you learn so much at breakneck speed, whether it's, you know, building something in the way of new platforms that when you realize like, oh, there's off the shelf tools that you can actually infuse. You don't have to build everything from scratch, hiring people. One of the hardest things that I hadn't done up until that point was firing somebody. So having to tell somebody who has two kids, look, you know, like we're, we're out of money, bro. I'm really sorry. And he's like, well Yeah, but I have kids and rent and a family. And that as I think I was, like 25, or 26 is really difficult because yeah, like you're, you're not necessarily, you're not prepared for that. Or if you've never done it, it certainly doesn't feel good. never does. But yeah, having to take on that element of responsibility where, you know, like the things that were said, where it's like you said, we were going to be doing this for years. And I'm like, Yeah, I know, I thought we were to, and that can really mess with like, a lot of kind of existential, what is this? Why are we doing this kind of moments? Now? Those are some of the bigger learning lessons for sure.
Andrew Stotz 20:40
So maybe I'll sell I'll share a few things that I think about this. So the first one is, you know, the best validation is sales. And, you know, I was just imagining, you know, having a gluten free shop, and just trying to see how much we're selling. And just actually the physical shop, how much could we sell if, you know, like, that type of thing. And I think that's one of the lessons that I've learned is the idea. And I have a story that one of my guests had told about how he was in Cambodia, and he came up with the idea of selling wine. So he had to go through an import license and get that set up his business. And he went through a long process, and finally got the wine in and he just didn't sell it. He couldn't sell it, for whatever reason. Maybe he was out of money. Maybe he was out of time, maybe he was out of energy. Maybe they weren't buying what he imported. But he basically failed at this. And I asked him, you know, what's his advice? And he said, he just said, start selling. And I said, Well, how do you start selling when you haven't even imported? He said, there were wine in Florida as I could have bought a crate of wine, and started selling it, and just started selling. And I was like, Damn, you know, that, that? That shook me. And so now the second thing that I want to talk about is it I was on a podcast a couple of days ago called startup operator out of India. And, and they asked me to come on in I talk a lot about my, what I've learned from lessons, 350 podcasts interviews that I've done, but I decided for them, I would do some additional research. And so what I did is I went through all of my interviews that were startup based. Luckily, I have some interns working with me. So they've been helping me go through. And we've identified all of them that were startup failures. And then we tried to classify what they claimed were their biggest mistakes, basically. And then I tried to see if there's some commonality in there. And so this is not my opinion, although I have my own opinions on startup from my own experience. But here is what my guess I would you like to hear the list of the top six?
Andrew Stotz 22:47
so the first most common mistake was bad hiring decisions. The second most common mistake of startup companies that people that I interviewed that failed in startup was poor management of time, and people. The third was ineffective teamwork, and collaboration. The fourth was waited too long to start selling. The fifth was weak accounting and finance. And the six was low product quality. I'm curious with all of your experience, not only from this story, but the other companies. What would you Is there something you would add in there? Is this something that just yeah, arising in there is what?
Taylor Ryan 23:31
Yeah. So my experience, I've written a ton of content around this stuff, and done actually a number of presentations around it, because yeah, I've had six startups and five of the six were just disastrous. But you know, it's all building and breaking even is, in some sense, as good as almost Yeah, succeeding. Or maybe it's, it's actually quite, quite the opposite. But the idea was, I found that finding product market fit was usually number one on my book. So like, I've met so many people, especially out in Scandinavia that have this crazy, I guess, drive towards sustainability impact, all these things that are of course good for the planet, and why not, but it's a lot of greenwashing and virtue signaling. And so the reality is, there's a ton of people that are selling products that there is no market for and without speaking to customers, like I really miss this really obvious ask, I should have spent at least a month doing that, or a few weeks to talk to 50 or 100 people that would buy from me in the future. I found that was a major area of failure. Once you're over the hump, and you're maintaining some form of revenue, and you're growing Rolling, I found that a lot of startup founders missed the ball when it does come to finance and how they dole out anything in the way of equity. or looking at splitting up something in the way of, you know, like around for funding. And there's a number of like, Great documents out there, like, Y Combinator has the safe docks scfe. And those are fantastic. But I see this all the time, I do a ton of like mentorship for free and stuff like that for small startups. And there are some scumbag, douche nozzle advisors out there that will come in with a fancy background. So while I was director of this, and a giant bank, so put me on your board as an advisor, and for that, I'll take 5% of your total equity. And it's like, yo, fuck this guy. Sorry for my language. But you know, like, there's so many people that come to you with a handout. And if you don't have a good idea of how to do sweat equity, how to build out a model that allows you to protect some of your intellectual property, like you are in a really tough situation in terms of like real scalable growth. And so many founders in this set, because we're so focused on building the product or service, and not necessarily protecting what it is that they're building, which you know, is sometimes counterintuitive.
Andrew Stotz 26:22
It's interesting, because recently, I've been signing up a lot more clients in Thailand, and in Asia, as what I would call kind of outsourced, CFO. But really what it is, is advising and making sure number one, I think my biggest advice for startups is you need to have monthly financial statements a monthly close. If you can do that every single month, then you've eliminated almost 95% of any problems you're going to face in the world of accounting and finance. Yeah, you've got to think about your spending and all your revenue and all that. But first thing is that and so I have a team, and my business partner is very great at basically cutting the Gordian knot in a start up, and basically saying, we're going to get this thing so that we've got monthly financial statements within three months. And it doesn't matter to me all of the different people who don't want to do this and don't want to do that. So that's the first thing. But then the other one is, the other one is talking. I mean, since I was an analyst in the stock market, and looked at all different ways of structuring equity and structuring advisory and boards and stuff. Yeah, there's a lot of, you know, important things that, you know, people probably give away in a lot of cases, because they just don't know. So Fantastic. Well, listen, based upon what you learn from this story, and what you continue to learn what one action would you recommend our listeners take to avoid suffering the same fate?
Taylor Ryan 27:50
Yeah, I mean, it's, it's tough to crystallize it into just one area. But I think by the narrative that I've given, it's having, it's having those really early conversations, if your product will evolve, your brand will evolve, whatever you're building will pivot take a completely different trajectory. I know very few people that had this kind of target and let down one specific line and never never strayed off the path that they were on, like, you have to be flexible. So yeah, the things that I found from doing some of these conversations, I think, if I had done that earlier, I would have been so much better off. So I encourage everybody to do that, especially if you're building like a software as a service, SaaS products. Like it's so important. It's one of the first things that investors ask for in pre seed round is, do you have any type of acknowledgment from potential customers that say, Yes, I would buy this in a heartbeat, once it's live. Having those is so powerful to go into an investor meeting, say, look, we're already ready. And people have already validated the product and said, they want to buy from us as soon as it's going. So like, can you cut me a check tomorrow?
yeah, and that kind of stuff works.
Andrew Stotz 29:07
that's valuable advice. And I think, you know, one of the things that I've seen some people do in startups that I thought was really smart, is they went to their target customer and they said, Look, we're developing this, here's where we are in this. We think it would be valuable to you, can we do some pilot tests together? And our man then, you know, you really uncover, you know, in particular, you know, if it's a big company, they may be able to devote one person to helping kind of play around with this, you know, type of thing. So, those are, you know, great, great pieces of advice. So just get out there and, and, you know, I love the product market fit is such a great, you know, I'm picturing trying to trying to, you know, doesn't and, and I also think about the idea of chasing revenue amusing. That's what we do in the startup world so many times and you're talking about it, It's rare that we just go on one straight path, you know, we got to, you got to chase the revenue. You've got to chase where the customers, you know, wants it. And it's usually not, you know exactly where, where you start. Alright, last question. What's your number one goal for the next 12 months?
Taylor Ryan 30:17
Yeah. So I'm, I'm running this agency. And it's been a ton of fun. To some degree running anything in like COVID-19 times. It's just yeah, it's, it's a great. But I've been focused on building a few things that are really scalable. And it's never one thing. When you're kind of a serial entrepreneur, you're always ADHD and spinning a bunch of different plates, I'll never be able to escape that. That's just what life is all about for me. But I really believe that building scalable products that are never a one for one is incredibly important. And so I meet so many people that are trying to build service, service minded or very service oriented companies that are not a digital product that are something that requires money in order to pay employees in order to get money in the back. And you kind of creep along doing that. But when you create a digital product, you can sell the same thing, 100 times, 1000 times a million times. And I've been a part of a number of those companies on a very long journey here and back in the States. And so I've been developing a couple of different things. So growth secrets.org was something that was this growth hacking masterclass that I just kind of figured I was delivering common sense. But a lot of people are really into it. So I'm in the process of kind of bolstering some of that I've priced at way below anything else is out there. So that's kind of like the first and foremost thing. And the other kind of moonshot idea is an automation tool that allows for outreach at scale using a couple of buying signals, and applying a bit of machine learning to it. So yeah, there's a lot going on. It sounds exciting. But you know, the reality is, it's just a lot of work. Yeah, it is. Like,
Andrew Stotz 32:18
I know the feeling.
Taylor Ryan 32:20
I don't know about you, I can't remember if it's like Simon Sinek or somebody else. But there's a whole stupid analogy. Well, if you love what you do, then you'll never work a day again in your life. But you know, I got I do love my job. It's a fucking grind. Like, I'm in here. 1214 hours a day, I stopped doing seven days a week, because that was Yeah, like killing the relationship with the girlfriend. But I don't know, like, do you find yourself in a place where you have the balance? And at what point do you get there?
Andrew Stotz 32:49
Yeah, and in my case, I have two businesses. One is a coffee factory. And luckily for me, my best friend runs it. And he's been running it for 25 years. So it every night we talk about what's going on. And then as far as accounting and finance, that's kind of my area. But generally that company can run on its own without that much involvement with me. And then I take care of my business, then I by chance, I stopped teaching at university about six or seven years ago. So as an analyst, I would teach like in the evenings or weekends, and I just felt like I learned so much. So I decided about five years ago, I decided to put my, what I had taught online. And so I created something called the valuation masterclass about five years ago. And then when COVID came, you know, and then I wrote some other books, and then I turned those into online courses. One about investing for beginners, another one called finance made ridiculously simple. And I started to create these courses. And when COVID came, I just knew I wasn't going to sign up any new corporate clients for my research business or not much. So I just, and I did a barter, basically, I went out to the market here in Bangkok to students, and I said, you're probably not going to get a job right now. And I can't hire you. But if you trade your labor and knowledge, I'll trade everything I know, and try to help you get a job and get, you know, experience. And so I've had literally nearly about 100 interns since a year ago. And as a result, I've bolstered all my courses I've created now a total of six online courses. And when you talk about scale, you know, I know for my business partners, you know, it's like, come on and get back to our main business, you know, and let's go and let's grow that which I'm doing now. But I'm like, Don't miss the opportunity that you're talking about. Each of these can be, you know, between 100 and a quarter of a million dollars in annual revenue with limited work because you invest it all up front. And then I have Facebook groups for each one. So once a week I do office hours into those groups, but you know that the scalable aspect of it is something that you met that you said that really you resonated with me. And that's a scalable revenue stream that I didn't have to the degree that I have today. 12 months ago. So thank you COVID.
Taylor Ryan 35:11
I like that. And to that point, I think that's something that in every job interview, like six months from now, every hiring manager is gonna say, Hey, what do you do for like, the whole year, year and a half where everybody was like, shut in? And, you know, like, Pornhub and video games? You know, that's not an answer. Netflix and chips. Yeah, like, it's crazy. me so good. Anya, I can respect that.
Andrew Stotz 35:36
Well, I think there's another aspect that I would challenge the listeners to also think about, and that is that when COVID happened, first of all, obviously, it's scary and all that, but you know, I'm, I'm still young, I'm only 55, I'm in good shape. But the first thing I did is I went on a five day water fast, meaning just having water, and of course, taking vitamins and, and of course, having an espresso in the morning. But the point was, I knew that, you know, water fast held to reset immunity. And so I, you know, looked at the research on that I said, Let's make sure I've got that myself healthy. And then basically, the second thing is I said, I'm not gonna let global governments across the world, including Thailand, everywhere, that decided to just shut everything down. Not quarantine, the sick, but quarantine everyone. I'm not gonna let this beat me. I will serve, I will not only survive, but I will thrive from it. And that was my challenge. And keep in mind, in our coffee, business revenue went down by 80%. And so that was brutal. But we survived through it. And and I'm coming out much stronger with new revenue streams with new and this is one of the things that happens from an investment perspective is that the companies that do survive end up having better profit margins, more efficiencies, and that's part of the reason why markets actually, you know, are justified to some extent, for being strong. So I challenge the listener out there to take a moment, stop, don't get caught up in the whirlwind of fear, and of helplessness or hopelessness, and apply your ingenuity, maybe do some barter, but figure out a way that you're going to come out of this better, stronger, faster. Alright, man, now I'm excited. All right. listeners, there you have it, another story of loss to keep you winning. My number one goal for the next 12 months is to help you, my listener to reduce risk in your life. So go to my worst investment ever.com right now, and download the risk reduction checklist and see how you measure. Now as we conclude, Taylor, I want to thank you again for coming on the show. And on behalf of a stocks Academy, the company that home that houses my six courses, I hereby award you alumni status for turning your worst investment ever into your best teaching moment. Do you have any parting words for the audience?
Taylor Ryan 38:17
Yeah, I mean, I'm, I'm getting all jazzed up right now, Andrew, like it was really well put. Yeah, I have a couple of like small things. So I've been looking to hire somebody that does design work. And like, it's unfathomable how rough so many of these portfolios are and it's like, we you have YouTube at your fingertips, you don't have to take my course or any of yours, in order to find just a knowledge base and a wealth of information that can get you somewhere. And if you only have three projects that you've ever worked on, I mean, reach out to people, Hey, I just put together 10 social media posts for free I, you know, I just need to build my portfolio. I love the way that you're kind of doing the bartering system, because that's how I got started as well. So I absolutely agree with your sentiment on that because showing a resume or portfolio with nothing, regardless of your job experience or whatever it is, your field of focus is not going to get you anywhere. So I absolutely agree with that. And you know, the last thing is, I am building stuff. If you want to learn more about me, I'm the only tailor Ryan in Denmark so look me up on LinkedIn. I also run Clint marketing comm growth secrets.org that's the online masterclass. And Taylor Ryan, if you're looking for workshops or want to talk innovation and stuff like that,
Andrew Stotz 39:44
beautiful and for the listeners out there, we'll have all those links in the show notes to just go to the show notes. click through and reach out. You never know what can happen. Well, that's a wrap on another great story to help us create, grow and most Importantly protect our well fellow risk takers. This is your worst podcast hose Andrew Stotz saying. I'll see you on the upside.
Connect with Taylor Ryan
- How to Start Building Your Wealth Investing in the Stock Market
- My Worst Investment Ever
- 9 Valuation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
- Transform Your Business with Dr.Deming’s 14 Points
Andrew’s online programs
- Valuation Master Class
- How to Start Building Your Wealth Investing in the Stock Market
- Finance Made Ridiculously Simple
- Become a Great Presenter and Increase Your Influence
- Transform Your Business with Dr. Deming’s 14 Points