How to grow your business with Noah Kagan, founder of AppSumo

According to Bloomberg, 8 out 10 entrepreneurs who start a business fail within the first 18 months.

Which sounds pretty scary right?

So what's the secret to starting and growing a business and surviving your first five years?

Enter the startup whisperer, Noah Kagan.

That's right, in today's episode I have the privilege to share with you my conversation with Noah Kagan, the founder of AppSumo and SumoMe, who's been one of my virtual mentors over the last few years. 

I came across Noah a few years back via his friend Tim Ferriss and was blown away by his "stop playing business!" attitude when it came down to getting wantrapreneurs to pull the trigger on their business ideas.

And I know you're going to learn a ton from him too.

If you don't know who Noah is, he became Facebook employee #30 at age 24, got fired, missed out on making $200+ million in stock options, joined Mint.com as Marketing Director, took the startup from zero to a million users, left (and walked away from $1.3 million), launched a company making games on Facebook, got sued by Facebook, lived in his aunt's basement for two years and eventually had an idea to promote weekly deals on awesome products to help you grow your business.

And so, in 2010, with just $50, AppSumo was born.

Today, Noah's grown AppSumo and SumoMe into a healthy 8 figure business.

In today's episode Noah shares with you:

  • Why he walked out on Tony Robins
  • Why no one cares about you, and why that’s a good thing
  • Why starting a business is like starting a diet
  • The five biggest blockers stopping people from starting a business
  • What you can do to get over your fear of failure and fear of asking for money
  • Who he would quit his company to go work for (can you guess??)
  • Why marginal life hacks are a waste of time
  • And what he's learned about success from his friend Tim Ferriss 

I know you're going to love today's episode as much as I did.

If you did, please share it with a friend, as it's the best form of compliment you can give me.

Thanks and can't wait to hear what you got from today's episode! 

Mark

The Origins Story:

After graduating from Berkley University in 2004 with a Business degree, Noah went down the conventional path of getting a "good job" in a well established company, i.e. Intel.

Problem was, he was bored out of his mind and ended up bringing his sleeping bag to sleep in his cubicle, renaming Intel, Inhell

Eventually, Noah decided to do something about it and sent his CV to a startup you might have heard of...Facebook.

Back then Facebook was barely a year old with a few million users, and just like that, at 24 years old, Noah became employee #30 at Facebook.

Amongst other things, he was responsible for working on creating the "Status Update", ironing out the mobile version of the platform and launching Facebook ads.

But here's the story that's made Noah famous...

When he joined Facebook, he was given two salary options:

  1. A $60,000 base and .1% of the company (20,000 shares)
  2. A $65,000 base and .05% of the company

Guess which option he picked?

The first one.

Meaning his stock options would have made him worth about $200+ million today. 

Problem was, he was fired nine months into the job...

That's right, Noah mentions a few reason for being fired including "leaking" information to TechCrunch, but the one that stuck with me is when one day Mark Zuckerberg pulled him aside and asked him a question that would define the rest of his story:

"Do you want to be on the Noah Show or the Facebook Show?" - Mark Zuckerberg

After finally being fired and feeling pretty down, Noah joined Mint.com as employee #4 where as Marketing Director, he helped Mint.com grow from zero to one million users. 

Although Noah owned 1% of the company when he joined and that Mint.com was subsequently bought by Intuit for $270 million dollars, Noah had quit before he could cash in his stock options.

This time he walked away from making $1.7million.

But fear not, Noah had been moonlighting on the side lines making games for Facebook and eventually was making enough money to quit his job and follow his dream of being his own boss and being location independent.

His startup Gambit transitioned into creating payment methods for games and was processing $30million in their first 12 months (they were making 10% of that in case you're curious).

But eventually Facebook and his biggest competitor sued his company...

Noah was living in his aunt's basement for two years and lived on his mum's couch for a year but one day, he realised that he loved seeing people do what they love and he loved promoting great products.

So, he had an idea to create a weekly deal platform to help people grow their business.

With $50 and thanks to the help of his trusted freelancer coder, Mohammed, AppSumo.com was born.

And guess what? The company grew fast.

Too fast.

To the point where Noah and his core team had to make the tough decision to fire everyone and go back to the core team.

That's when he traveled to India and grew a beard...

Since then, AppSumo.com gave birth to SumoMe.com and Sumo.com (the sumo.com web domain cost them $1.5 million to buy btw). 

The real success story is that despite missing out on cashing big at Facebook and at Mint, Noah's managed to grow his company into an eight figure business.

Today, Noah has stepped away from the day-to-day operations and focuses more on the strategy of the business.

He continues to write regularly on his blog OKDork.com and recently launched his own podcast, Noah Kagan Presents (see shownotes below).

You can catch Noah every week on his YouTube channel where he shares his tips on how to start and grow your business.

 

Shownotes: