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How Did Partnering with a Niche Influencer Bring Us 5,000 Customers?
Episode 5210th January 2024 • B2B SaaS Podcast • Upendra Varma
00:00:00 00:10:36

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David Henzel, Founder of UpCoach, discusses their transformative journey from a DIY coaching course to a thriving platform with a 93% completion rate. The strategic partnerships, particularly with influencer Todd Herman, played a key role in the early success of UpCoach. Boasting a customer base of 5,000 with a mix of one-time and recurring paying users, UpCoach's top-of-funnel strategies include collaborations with coaches, podcast launches, and SEO efforts.

Here are the key talking points,

  • UpCoach achieved a remarkable 93% completion rate through a shift to core-based coaching.
  • Early success attributed to strategic partnerships, particularly with influencer Todd Herman.
  • The platform, priced at $39 and featuring a freemium option, targets coaches, focusing on smaller coaching organizations.
  • Current customer base includes 5,000 coaches, with a mix of one-time and recurring paying customers.
  • Top-of-funnel strategies involve partnerships with other coaches, podcast launches, and SEO efforts.
  • Upcoming plans include enhancing features, improving ease of use, and launching an app marketplace.
  • CEO David Hensel's personal journey from a disruptive student to running multiple agencies with 500 employees.
  • Future aspirations for UpCoach centered around product growth and continued impact in the coaching space.

You can also watch this episode on youtube here,

Transcripts

David Henzel:

When you start out as a new company or partnering up with

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somebody who's really known in a, in a,

in a, in a market makes it very easy.

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You know, it's like, Oh, Todd's involved.

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This stuff must be good.

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Like, uh, was in the beginning,

something that really drove us

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a lot of users, just his network

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Upendra Varma: Hello everyone.

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Welcome to the B2B SaaS podcast.

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I'm your host Upendra Verma and

today we have David Hensel with us.

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David here is the CEO of

a company called UpCoach.

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David also runs almost three to four more

companies, uh, which I'm not going to name

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here, but he runs a link building agency.

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He's got a sales development

agency and all of it.

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Right.

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So yeah, excited to have you here, David.

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Welcome to the show.

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David Henzel: Thanks for having me.

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Upendra Varma: right.

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So David, so for this interview,

right, so we'll stick to, you

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know, talking about UpCoach, right?

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So what does UpCoach as a platform

do and why customers pay you money?

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David Henzel: So I'll put you

through the history of UpCoach.

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Um, I have a coaching program called

managing happiness, where I help

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people to run their lives the same

way you run a successful business,

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defining mission, vision, values,

and goals, and all that jazz.

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And initially it was a DIY course and

I had a 7 percent completion rate.

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And this was really bugging me

because I was doing this to have

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impact, not necessarily to make money.

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Um, and it was bugging me that 97.

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People of 100 don't complete the course.

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And I thought my course must suck.

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But then I looked into it

and 7 percent on the DIY was

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actually a good completion rate.

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And then I dug in further and thought

like, what can I do to really make sure

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this information gets into people's

heads and people actually use it?

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And so I started a core based

coaching where you, you know, it's

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a mixture of video courses, some

homework, and then zoom meetings.

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With small cohorts, and this has

been working like a charm to date.

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I have a 93 percent completion

rate from seven to 93.

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And, um, but it was very cobbled

together with lots of different,

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um, apps that I've been using and

certain things were not there.

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And so I asked the CTO of another

business of mine, um, which is an

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on premise email marketing solution.

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And, um, he built me starting

out with the group habit tracker.

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Cause I'm a big believer

in positive peer pressure.

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So we built a transformation software.

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It's a software for coaches that helps you

to do one on one and group coaching, but

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with an extreme focus on transformation.

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So we actually get people to,

yeah, transform their lives.

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Upendra Varma: And like who you're

selling these, this particular product

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to and like, how do you price them?

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David Henzel: It's priced, um,

per coach, um, or per admin.

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That's like starting from I think 39.

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It's very funny having so

many different companies.

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You're not in the day to day,

I think starting at 39, but we

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just introduced the freemium.

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So if you want to check

it out, go to upcoach.

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com and we mainly started to course,

uh, to coaches initially I built it for.

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Bigger coaching organizations as, as mine,

but now we switched to focus on building

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the features that small cultures need,

like, um, billing and, um, accountancy,

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functionable calls, et cetera.

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So it's like a, you know,

all in one solution.

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Upendra Varma: And then like today, right?

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So how many customers are

using your platform, right?

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So,

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David Henzel: Uh, currently

I think we have 5, 000, 5,

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000 coaches in the platform.

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Upendra Varma: Got it.

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David Henzel: And it's not, it's

not only coaches that are using it.

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Um, funny, funny enough, it's

a very versatile platform.

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So you can, you have building blocks and

you can kind of like piece together your,

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your program, your coaching program.

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And my other company

started using it as a.

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Um, let's say control panel or login

area for the agency, you know, so the

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customers log in and then they have,

um, the communications happening in

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their chat and, um, form communication.

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And, you know, so it's, it's, it's

pretty versatile, but main focus is.

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Upendra Varma: all, are all these

5, 000 customers paying customers?

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David Henzel: Yes, we, in the early days

we ran a Absu deal, so I don't know,

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like, I think like 2000 or so are, uh, I

mean, paid once and, you know, and yeah.

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Upendra Varma: So, so

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David Henzel: For transparency,

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Upendra Varma: 2000, so I'm just trying

to understand all of, are all of these

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recurring customers or like most of them

are from your app somebody that they pay

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David Henzel: no, uh, like

the, the, the majority is, um,

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not regular paying customers.

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Upendra Varma: Okay.

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So the rest of them are, you

know, sort of, you know, regular

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recurring recurring paying customers.

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Right.

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David Henzel: Yes, correct.

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Upendra Varma: what you would quantify.

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Right.

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So, so yeah, I mean, are you comfortable

sharing with me right in terms of,

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in terms of approximate revenue.

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Right.

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So like of what, all right,

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David Henzel: It's like a

general, uh, rule of thumb buyer.

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I don't like to get, get into

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Upendra Varma: Sure.

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Sure.

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Sure.

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So I'm just trying to ask because

I just want to understand your

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go to, go to market motion, but

we'll get, get to that anyways.

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Right?

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So it's apart from AppSumo, right?

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So what have you, what have you been

doing right so far to sort of, you know,

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in terms of strictly from a top of funnel

perspective, where you, where are all

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of these coaches finding your product?

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So what's been

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David Henzel: So what I like doing since

I'm, I'm not an expert coach and when

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you go into a new niche, um, being,

you know, a nobody in the coaching

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space, you know, I've been doing, I've

been coaching my employees for a long

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time and like kind of doing my thing.

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But what I like doing is for a new

business that I start to like to find

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a, let's say, poster child or like a,

you know, somebody that's really known.

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So, uh, I partnered up with Todd Herman.

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He wrote the book, the alter ego effect.

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He's a.

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Rockstar coach, he's been

coaching for 25 years.

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He sold two successful company,

uh, coaching companies.

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He's coached, I don't know, 80 Olympians,

lots of like, you know, uh, big name.

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Actually, he, uh, helped Kobe to come up

with the black Mamba alter ego, you know?

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So he's like, he's a real rockstar.

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So partnering up with him.

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Um.

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When you start out as a new company

or partnering up with somebody

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who's really known in a, in a, in

a, in a market makes it very easy.

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You know, it's like, Oh, Todd's involved.

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This stuff must be good.

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You know, for us, like a coach

never heard of David Henson.

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So, um, this is like, Like, uh, was in the

beginning, something that really drove us

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a lot of users, just his network and, um,

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Upendra Varma: and what

happened after that, right?

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So how are you driving your leads today?

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So what's happening, what channels

have been working for you?

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David Henzel: in a foreign place.

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So we, we work with other coaches,

coaches, coaches that, uh, are, um,

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you know, they, we do launches with

them and they promote us in their,

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in their funnels and, you know, or

we have taught join webinars that

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they're doing with their audiences,

you know, kind of providing value.

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And like, it's not a

hard pitch of up coach.

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It's just like, you know, providing value.

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Um, and then this is how we, how

we went people, other things.

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We have a podcast that we just launched

with Todd, you know, interviewing like

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very high profile, other cultures.

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Um, and SEO, you know, since I have a link

building agency and SEO agency like this,

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it's always like part of my, my strategy.

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Upendra Varma: All right.

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So David, so one last question, right?

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Before we, we, we sort of really

understand about what you've

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been doing so far in life.

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Right.

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I'd say you've, you've done

a lot of things, right?

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So just what's, what's the,

what's the not start here, right?

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With respect to, you know, upcoaching.

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So what you aiming at, what's

the next big milestone you're

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sort of aiming, aiming for

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David Henzel: The next big

milestone in terms of product or

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in terms of vision of the company

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Upendra Varma: Yeah.

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So a combination of all of it, right?

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So in terms of product, what is it in

terms of revenue, what are you looking at?

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And in terms of, you know, overall long

term vision, what are you looking at?

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David Henzel: So in terms of revenue,

I'll keep this to myself, uh, but in

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terms of product and we have a long

feature list this year, we want to

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focus on making it easier, um, for

the smaller coach, you know, kind of

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like to catch them when they're young.

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Idea, um, to ma make it easy and kind of

build the table stakes that they need.

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'cause a larger culture organization, they

don't need um, uh, a billing integration

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because they have a billing department.

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They work with enterprise clients

that just like sentiment invoice

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versus like a smaller culture needs

these features or, um, so we we're

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building these missing features and

we're making, we increasing the US

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build the ease of use of a platform.

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'cause it's a very powerful tool.

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So you have like lots of things you can.

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Configure and this can be overwhelming

for, for people that are not that,

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you know, not, not nerdy with glasses,

you know, so, uh, and so we're just

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like making, making this easier and

we launched a, uh, we're about to

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launch an app marketplace where you

can build your apps on app coach.

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So if you have an idea for coaching

app, if you want to integrate your

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solution into app coach, because

we have this building blocks inside

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of the, uh, inside of the platform.

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I can't build, so I see, see, like we're

the Shopify for the coaching space.

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And then you can build your apps

and then shop for marketplace.

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So that's, that's what's, what's coming

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Upendra Varma: All right.

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So now I want to understand your

background and get a sense of,

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you know, how you reached here.

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Right?

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So, so I see that you run

almost three successful agencies

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across the board, right?

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I could see multiple, multiple

things happening at a time.

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Just talk about that story, right?

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So how did you end up starting three

agencies and how big are these today?

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Just for viewers.

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David Henzel: So since I'm, you know,

in terms of headcount, the portfolio of

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my companies has around 500 employees.

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That's kind of like the, um,

where we're currently at.

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And, um, I'll just give you my,

my life story, very succinct.

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I went to 14 different schools.

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I got kicked out everywhere.

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I always had a problem with authority.

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And then at some point I

was really lost in life.

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Didn't know what to do with my life.

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And then I found.

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Entrepreneurship, a friend of mine said

like, Hey man, you go with computers.

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How about we start a business?

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I'm like, yeah, sure.

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I have nothing else going on.

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So we went through it.

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And then I discovered entrepreneurship.

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And so it's pretty much thing had a few

different businesses sold one in Germany.

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I lived in Germany back then.

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And I was really drawn to America because

I saw the startup ecosystem in America.

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And, you know, this was

like not happening in

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Upendra Varma: the company

that you sold, right?

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Was that an agency?

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David Henzel: No, this was an e commerce

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Upendra Varma: Okay.

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E

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David Henzel: launched an e commerce

business in the early before it was cool.

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Uh, and it was a funny enough, it was

one of my customers of my IT consulting

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company was selling Shisha Nargile.

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Hookah, you know, Egyptian water pipes.

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And he's like, Hey man, I

don't know the tech stuff.

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I'd love to launch an e commerce business.

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Can we do this together?

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And he was so persistent and annoying

that just did it to shut him up.

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But then it really took off.

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So, so I focused on this one and it's also

businesses are sold to get the money, to

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get my investor visa to the United States.

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And, um, so yeah, I moved, moved to

Los Angeles and co founded MacCDN,

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the content delivery network.

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And we had a really good exit in 2016.

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We sold the business.

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Upendra Varma: Thanks, David.

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Thanks for taking the time to talk to me.

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Thanks for watching the

B2B SAS Podcast channel.

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Please make sure to subscribe

to the channel here.

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