April 25, 2021

How Mindset & Equity Crowdfunding Led to 21,900% Growth For HelloWoofy In A Year with Arjun Rai

How Mindset & Equity Crowdfunding Led to 21,900% Growth For HelloWoofy In A Year with Arjun Rai

How One Underdog Is Helping Other Underdogs Succeed Through Digital Marketing


Show Notes

Finding opportunities to help your business grow can be strongly influenced by your chosen mindset.

In this podcast episode, Tania speaks with a passionate founder, Arjun Rai, about his entrepreneurial journey and how he’s successfully using mindset and equity crowdfunding to grow his business HelloWoofy quickly. You'll also hear advice on his success strategies, habits, and mindsets.

HelloWoofy is an AI-enabled digital marketing tool that helps you save time and optimize your social media strategy using visual data science.

 

"One of the things that we've been allowing our customers to do is actually invest in the company. So while we have a goal to build the biggest company in the world, helping the smallest, something new that I encourage every founder and every entrepreneur take a look at is equity crowdfunding ... to build a company for your customer, with the customer itself, beyond just having a discovery group or a customer discovery group and feedback loop, actually bringing them in and saying here, come on our Cap Table, own a piece of our company as a thank you to believing in us early on." - Arjun Rai

 

We discuss in this episode with Arjun:

  • When Arjun first decided to make it his mission to make data-driven technology affordable. (5:57) 

  • How Arjun had entrepreneurial goals from a young age. (8:25)

  • Why you should double down and let everyone else around you know if you believe your calling is to be an entrepreneur. (9:51)

  • How your mindset can help you to build a company for your customer with your customer & why Arjun recommends that every founder looks into equity crowdfunding. (12:10)

  • How being strategic and thoughtful around your time management can lead to increased earnings. (13:51)

  • How to think about building your confidence as a new entrepreneur. (14:28)

  • What Arjun believes is the key to HelloWoofy’s success. (15:07)

  • How to build a strong company culture if you’ve got a global team. (16:03)

  • How listening and being obsessed with your customers' needs and wants can lead to building a successful MVP. (16:50)

  • How HelloWoofy was able to build the world's first smart speaker scheduler. (18:24)

  • How to avoid scope creep when building your MVP. (19:10)

  • Find out if there’s a real dog on which the brand name HelloWoofy is based. (19:49)

  • Arjun’s prediction for the future of digital and content marketing and how to have a competitive advantage. (20:55)

  • Why you should include emojis in your social media marketing. 😀👌🔥 (22:47)

  • How to communicate with authenticity with your customers. (26:46)

  • Why Arjun includes himself as a real person within his business’ brand online. (28:17)

  • What it means to have values-driven marketing. (29:14)

  • How Arjun creates a work-life balance. (31:55)

  • The mindset Arjun believes everyone should have. (34:26)

  • Relationships new entrepreneurs should prioritize. (35:02)

  • Where to learn about HelloWoofy and connect with Arjun. (37:17)

 

 

Starting Advantage welcomes voices from many spheres with different perspectives and opinions, which dont necessarily reflect our own. The show does not endorse, promote, or is in association with guests' business interests. 

Resources mentioned:

 

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Tania De Ridder and the Starting Advantage Podcast own the copyright of the content in and transcripts of the Starting Advantage podcast, all rights reserved. 

Transcript

Eps 36 - How Mindset & Equity Crowdfunding Led to 21,900% Growth For HelloWoofy In A Year with Arjun Rai

Please enjoy this transcript of Arjun Rai's interview with Tania on the Starting Advantage Podcast. This transcript is lightly edited for readability.

[00:05:27] Tania De Ridder:  Hi Arjun, welcome to Starting Advantage. I've been looking forward to speaking to you all day.  Thank you so much for making time to be here.

[00:05:34] Arjun Rai: Absolutely. Thank you so much for your time. And it's such a  pleasure. It's always nice to give back and help.    

[00:05:40] Tania De Ridder: Arjun, you founded your innovative social media marketing platform, HalloWoofy.com  in 2016,  and you've had incredible growth in the past year.   You grew 21,900%.  That's incredible. Congratulations!

[00:05:55] Arjun Rai: Thank you. It's been a journey. 

[00:05:57] Tania De Ridder: When did you first decide to make it your mission to make data-driven technology  not only affordable,  but then also easy to navigate so that it doesn't feel like you need a Ph.D. in marketing to actually use.

[00:06:10] Arjun Rai: Yeah,  we went through the usual,  pivots and iterations like any company. We basically used all the learnings of that into relaunching the company in December 2019.   And as a result of that,  we've made it our mission to build smart marketing.  You said data science-driven marketing. We like to say, make it even simpler for small businesses, especially micro-businesses. It's just smart marketing. It's smart marketing for underdogs.  People who can't afford more than 12 US dollars a month in fees for software like ours.

[00:06:39] We are actually at $4 and 8 cents and going up to $9.  And so,  we launched in December 2019 as a social media scheduler.  We wanted to build the biggest company on the planet, helping the smallest. And then we quickly realized that boy, these small businesses, underdogs, they need help with blogging. So we repurpose our technology to then allow you to auto-complete entire blog posts,  scheduled that to appear on Medium, WordPress and soon Shopify and other blogging platforms as well.  And then during the midst of all of that, we then realized that all of these smart speakers that you're seeing,  the Alexa devices, the Echo Dots,  the Echo shows that you have with these touch screens built right into them or the Fire TVs, the whole industry grew double digits during the pandemic.  And it made sense. People were sticking at home during quarantine and they were consuming a lot more content.  But then as a result of that, this coffee shop never saw their customer ever again, the Hulu's and the Netflix's of the world, they were winning,  they were producing more content and distributing, et cetera, and Disney Plus was doing really well.   But the coffee shop owner couldn't schedule a video showing you how to brew the perfect cup of coffee,  give you a cup of beans and send it over to you as a delivery.  And they just didn't have, any way of contacting their customer, other than having to come back into the store.  So we actually started working with Amazon and under their guidance and the Alexa division, we were able to build the world's first smart speaker scheduler.

[00:07:58] So now you and I, for five bucks a month can schedule video, audio, and text to audio content to any of the hundreds of millions of smart speakers around the world and be able to reach our customers.  So that was the kind of different approach that unfortunately, none of our competitors,  have that mindset of being able to over-deliver and be almost like a Tesla,  a Tesla Model three, which is affordable, beautiful and intelligent. And so we felt that gap needed to be filled to support underdogs.

[00:08:25] Tania De Ridder: I want to talk more about how you figured out to get your minimum viable product ready and all that.  But first I want to get a feel and an understanding of you as an entrepreneur.   You started your entrepreneurial journey, very young in high school.   Was becoming an entrepreneur in tech always your goal?  Or did you have other plans for your life?

[00:08:46] Arjun Rai: Originally I wanted to be an architect and then I wanted to be an astronaut and then eventually I wanted to be an engineer, a back-end engineer, and I realized that back-end engineering was not my thing.  And then I got into communication by joining the radio clubs.    And one thing led to the other. And I just figured out that advertising, marketing, PR and a combination with my passion for tech and building tech, you know, gadgets and, also a layer of building crafts, arts and crafts. I do a lot of carpentry now and making candles and all of it just came together into what is HelloWoofy, which is to some extent, some of the data science that we do is very artistic so that people can understand it more easily.  We emphasize design alignment.

[00:09:26] So I would say,  I figured out, that I wanted to be an entrepreneur fairly early and I just kept iterating; even iterating on my personal self, whatever my MVP was of my own body, I guess, as an entrepreneur, my iterations over the years have changed as well,  and I just became better and better.

[00:09:41] Tania De Ridder: So was moving to New York after graduating from high school, part of you pursuing these entrepreneurial goals, or was that still just, going into your studies and then figuring it all out?

[00:09:51] Arjun Rai: Yeah, no, I was a terrible student. I  probably had a 60% absence rate in college, but I was skipping classes to go to networking events. Yeah.  I went to conferences, meetups. I would go to maybe like 10 events a week just to network with people. And many of them became investors down the road.  So I do encourage, if you found your calling early on, just double down on it and let everyone else know around you that  this is your calling. Cause I let the Dean know and let my professors know.  And, in the majority of the cases, they let me go and pursue the events and also get credit for it because I was in the entrepreneurship department and my degree was focused on small businesses.  So I kind of use all of that learning to become better and better as a networker, as an entrepreneur,  raise capital, find the right team.  It helped not only the agency I launched but also the third startup I did to raise capital. And while it didn't work out, I learned how not to raise capital, how not to build a team, how not to build a product.  And I use all of that into making HelloWoofy a huge success.

[00:10:48] Tania De Ridder: So it sounds like you look for opportunities. You communicate well, you make sure that you keep people involved.  It sounds like it wasn't a straightforward journey for you. 

[00:11:01] Arjun Rai: No.  I've always believed in the law of attraction that if you have a certain goal, if you have a certain mindset, if you have a certain sense of vision,  it'll happen for a reason, it will happen for a good reason. I've always been very fortunate to find the right kinds of investors in the last couple of years to further our project,  the right kinds of teammates, the right kinds of resources.  They all just come easily and frequently to us.   And so that's the mindset that I have come up with.  It has helped me over the years.  Everything happens for a reason. You meet certain people for a reason. You have certain opportunities for a reason. If you have that mindset, you'll be able to have an open mindset to recognize the people and the resources that are coming your way, or if you don't, then you'll miss it. 

[00:11:41] Tania De Ridder: That's not something I hear very often that the resources or the people that you need come easily.  So I'm sure you,  or the way you approached it, played a big role for you to be able to make the connections.

[00:11:52] Arjun Rai: Because then in your environment, you can see those and other people will just ignore it.

[00:11:56] Tania De Ridder:  Would you say it's more a mindset of being aware that you have to be open to it and actively look for it,  or is it a way that you communicate and interact with people that you think gives you this edge?

[00:12:10] Arjun Rai: Yeah, it's both actually.   You just saw lights blinking in our office is because we celebrate every time someone buys products and services from us. And so someone bought a HelloWoofy license.   We celebrate our investors, but also our customers. So again, to your point, that mindset, we actually live it. We breathe it. It's in our environment. It's in how we build a product.  It's in all of our marketing. We want to build a collective essentially, where not only are the people who work behind the company are super grateful, are super focused on the mindset. But also our customers,  they have a certain mindset to achieve more as an underdog as well.  It resonates with us across the board.  One of the things that we've been allowing our customers to do is actually invest in the company.  So while we have a goal to build the biggest company in the world, helping the smallest,  something new that I encourage every founder and every entrepreneur take a look at is equity crowdfunding for as low as a hundred dollars anyone can invest into a company like ours.  We've raised about just under $700,000 so far between three different campaigns.  And, anyone can invest as low as a hundred dollars. They can buy our license for 50 US dollars.  And then potentially make all of it back by becoming an affiliate plus have shares in the company, ownership in the company going forward. So very different mindset to build a company for your customer, with the customer itself,  beyond just having a discovery group or a customer discovery group and feedback loop,  actually bringing them in and saying here, come on our Cap Table, own a piece of our company as a thank you to believing in us early on. So again, mindset.  

[00:13:36] Tania De Ridder: I'm hearing having that open-minded mindset off including people,  involving people,  whether it's investors or whether it's customers or whether it's employees.  What do you think has been the biggest challenge for you personally as an entrepreneur up until now?

[00:13:51] Arjun Rai:  I've been getting better at time management thanks to Calendly. So managing investor calls, sales calls, dating life, you know, personal life,  seeing my dad more often, you know, things like that.  It's an interesting balance. So I think that was a challenge in the past and now I'm getting better at it.   At least I think so.   Now the question is how do we keep up with our growth?   We went from just a handful of customers to nearly 9,000 as of now,  and that kind of growth is pretty exponential, pretty quick. And, we've also increased our revenue, you know, workers increasing our revenue eight to 10% month over month. So it's just a matter of keeping up with it.  We're going to figure it out. We'll figure it out. We always do.

[00:14:28]  Tania De Ridder: It sounds like you are very confident in yourself and your abilities in being able to be rejected, maybe in a sense, if a door doesn't open for you.  Has that come naturally for you or is confidence as an entrepreneur, a skill that you had to build over time.

[00:14:45] Arjun Rai: You just have to do it so many times where you're like, it's just a numbers game at the end of the day,  just like anything you do in life, it's a matter of how many data points you can have, and then you can figure out the correlations between the data set and then,  the ideal goal is that you get more yeses than noes, but at the end of the day, even the few yeses you get will have a substantial effect on the outcome than all of the noes combined.

[00:15:07] Tania De Ridder: So you have had this incredible growth in the past year.  What do you attribute HelloWoofy's success to?

[00:15:13] Arjun Rai:  Mindset for one thing and just having a great team around me on the marketing side, on the engineering side,  having an amazing group of customers as well, that are continuously promoting our product,  both as an affiliate or some of them just do it just because we're a great company and every small business owner needs to use our tool,  to get to the next level.  I would say it's a family of amazing human beings that are continuing to push us forward.  But then also we keep double-downing on what's working,  improving what's not working,  focusing on new features that are helping small businesses compete with the biggest companies on the planet with unlimited marketing budgets. So, as I said,  competitors have never focused on that.  And that's okay.  They're already behind several years in some cases several decades.   Some of them are publicly traded or they're private, but we're so customer-obsessed that at the end of the day,  just like Amazon,  we're winning in our category.

[00:16:03] Tania De Ridder:  You mentioned having a strong team.   Since the beginning you've had a global team, so people aren't necessarily close enough to each other to get together in person.  So what do you do to build a strong company culture?

[00:16:16] Arjun Rai:  We have daily stand-ups that's one thing;   having everyone on the same page is super important. Using Slack is super important. We're actually about to integrate with Slack as a result of how important it is now to support small businesses using remote tools or remote working tools, essentially collaborative tools like Slack. So you'll be able to schedule content using HelloWoofy for those purposes, like daily stand-ups, like town halls and things like that.  So I would say tools and technologies that are great, but you know, the most important thing is making sure you're having that consistent daily meeting. And you're able to just hear and see other people is supercritical.

[00:16:50] Tania De Ridder: So when it comes to building your minimum viable product (MVP), how easy or difficult did you find that process and what did you learn that you think would be helpful for first-time entrepreneurs to know.

[00:17:02] Arjun Rai:  The most important thing is to keep in mind that there are amazing talented developers all over the world.  Our MVP was built out of India, actually. We found a devout dev team there. We spent a few thousand dollars,  raised 50,000 dollars off of that  MVP. And then we raised another 200,000 dollars on top of that because of the traction that we were able to get.  Plus,  we were able to feedback from that.   That traction led to a  different mindset, a different approach. We dumped the product and we restarted again.   And then we did it again one more time because we have to constantly keep up with the changes to the market, the changes in learning, the changes in the customer feedback.    Eventually from 2019 to today,  December 2019 to  March 2021, we've grown considerably fast because we kept listening. We were very obsessed with our customers' needs and wants. And,  that was 90%  of the focus.  Another 10% was on things that our customers didn't even know they needed or wanted like the Amazon scheduler for smart speakers.  And we built that with Amazon's help,  which is under their guidance and their mentorship with the Alexa division,  so that we can keep on pushing the envelope, the status quo for digital marketing for a small business.

[00:18:08] Tania De Ridder: And what is your process for making that decision to move on, to go in a different direction.  Do you spend a lot of time interviewing customers and then looking at the overall data and following your instincts?   Could you explain the process around that a little bit more?

[00:18:24] Arjun Rai: A lot of it is also when we come with a great idea, we run it internally. We take a look at the market if anyone's doing it.   So there's a layer of we will just build it because it should exist.  So the Amazon scheduler was a response to one of our customers, talking about smart speakers, we realized that these devices were growing incredibly fast, the smart speakers,  the Fire TVs, and all these devices were growing pretty fast. We wanted to figure out a way for you and I to schedule content to these devices.  We're proactively looking for new approaches.  And spending resources,  10 to 15% of our resources in that realm so that we can keep up. In fact, in many cases lead the category entirely.

[00:19:06] Tania De Ridder: Because that's your strategy, to be innovative in the market. 

[00:19:10] Arjun Rai: Yeah. 

[00:19:10] Tania De Ridder:  Something that's very difficult is to avoid scope creep,  especially when you're starting out. So what advice do you have on this? What was your experience? What worked for you?

[00:19:21] Arjun Rai: Yeah. So at the end of the day, I obviously have the say in terms of what gets built and what doesn't get built, but I've learned to listen to the team. I've learned to run it past their ideas, their thoughts, and things of that nature. And then collectively come up with a decision.  But I would say we do that 95%, 98% of the time we have a discussion, we talk about things. We mock things out. We design things from a UX UI perspective.  And then we'll go ahead and build it over the course of a couple of weeks.

[00:19:49] Tania De Ridder:  Arjun, coming up with your brand name,  I really do love it. It's so cute. It's so creative and it's such a smart comparison to man's best friend.  What's the story behind that? How did you come up with that brand? That name?

[00:20:02] Arjun Rai: Yeah. So I've always grown up with the Maltese. In fact, there's a Maltese right behind the store,  because my dad and I are coworking today and he brought his dog.  And so Snoopy is our third Maltese actually. And, and so that's why the white dog is there.   But the reason is because just like a best friend, he's always there teaching you when, how, and what to post.   And it's also focused on smart marketing for underdogs; people who are scrappy entrepreneurs, small businesses around the world,  who don't have a degree or a sense of understanding of what digital marketing is. But when you hear  400,000 small businesses shut down in the United States last year, because of the pandemic,  they're all underdogs, but unfortunately, they didn't have the means. We didn't talk to them.  They didn't talk to us.   We would have loved to help each and every one of them with digital marketing, figuring out different ways to promote their products and services. So,  we're going after the 400,000 that could have been saved plus the millions and tens of millions around the world.

[00:20:55]  Tania De Ridder:  What do you predict for the future of digital and content marketing and how do you think small businesses and other professionals can get a competitive advantage?

[00:21:05] Arjun Rai: Highly recommend taking a look at where Clubhouse is going as a social media network, taking a look at audio, video,   different forms of video consumption. One of the reasons why we built the Amazon smart speakers scheduler is because,  for example, this podcast, you could build a two-minute trailer,  schedule it to appear in  10,000 of your listeners' living rooms. And then they can click on the link and go to your website and watch the entire episode.  And you can run ads there. You can have marketing messages there, you can have upsells,  things of that nature,   popups. But the point is that audio is going to be huge, especially since our behavior has changed, we've become more of a society that's consuming  Clubhouse based on audio, having conversations based on audio and video is also following suit. Being able to just have natural conversations, not having to schedule conversations and just having a spontaneous conversation is going to be very important.  So now from a marketing perspective,  how does a business owner step in and promote their services is a question, right?

[00:22:01] So that's why we built a smart speaker scheduler because we feel that every living room can now become a great point of purchase, point of consumption as well. It's just like Netflix and Hulu have been doing for a very long time.  But for the purposes of now helping that small business owner have a  direct relationship,  in fact, a better relationship that even the consumer has today with many of the biggest companies in the world.  I would keep an eye out for how those two mediums are changing.

[00:22:26] Tania De Ridder: That's amazing. How long do you think it will take for that to become common use.  That most homes have it?

[00:22:33] Arjun Rai:  If I have my way, which we definitely will,  it'll be by this summer. We'll have all 9,000 small businesses, at least thousands of small businesses using our smart speakers' scheduler. I think it's going to be a bigger revenue driver for us actually more than social media scheduling.

[00:22:47] Tania De Ridder: That sounds very exciting.  You also recommend that businesses use emojis to communicate their brand.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on why it's important.  And if you think it's something that any type of business should use, no matter what type of business it is or that it doesn't matter how formal the industry is or not.  Is it something that should be used across the board? What are your thoughts on using them?

[00:23:14] Arjun Rai:  Great question. So emojis, statistically, according to the emoji trend report that came out of Adobe,  they drive significant uplift in engagement. In fact, Inc. Magazine just did an article as well as speaking to one of the writers. And she was like, did you know that there was an article that we wrote about the specific use case and she sent me the link and in it, it talks about email open rates. It talks about how emojis are just phenomenal in terms of driving engagement, purchase intent and things of that nature.  Now the only caveat is like most marketers, we can overuse a specific approach or a specific tactic because then we kill it.  We have to be very intentional. You have to be very focused. You have to be very data-driven to make sure that you're hitting the right points at the right time. And that's why our data science approaches,  we've mapped the entire dictionary to figure out exactly based on the words you're using, based on the hashtags you're using,  or even the emojis you're using,  what other words, emojis, hashtags tend to do well, or tend to be used with one another so that you're not winging it to figure things out. You're actually using real data,  real recommendations that are making sense, not just you saying, 'Oh, let's see what happens and let's just wing it. That's typically a strategy that small businesses use, but big companies they're spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year figuring out the best approaches.  And that's why they're winning.  But that obviously stops now with HelloWoofy.  We've democratized, we've levelled the playing field.

[00:24:35] Tania De Ridder:  HelloWoofy has a great way of showing users the effectiveness of the emojis that they're using and all of the other content.   How did you first decide to pursue this as something that your product has to offer?

[00:24:47] Arjun Rai:  I've been using emojis for the longest time.  Even when I was like on dating apps, I would ask a  girl's number I would say,   the finger pointer, right, the girl, depending on if she's blonde or brunette,  and then the phone icon and the hashtag and the question mark, I've been using that for years.   And so I have a screenshot from like eight years ago, probably at this point where someone said, 'Oh, you must be the emoji King', which is funny because we built, filed patents around emoji marketing and data science capabilities for all of that amazing stuff to figure out the perfect combination emojis.    I think it's super important to stay focused on these kinds of things. And at the end of the day,  they're all trends and insights, but it's because it's such a part of our language. We're all caveman at some point, we're all visual people at some point,  there's a reason why  Pinterest did really well. There's a reason why Instagram did really well. Why Tik Tok is doing really well because it's just  Pinterest and  Instagram on steroids. It's multiple frames per second, hence we call it a video.  And so we're just getting more and more visual and emojis is a part of that trend that we're seeing, but it's just a part of our DNA  as a human being.

[00:25:51] Tania De Ridder: So what I'm hearing is every business in every industry should have, or use emojis in their communication, in their marketing,  but that you can experiment with which ones are more effective for your specific customers. Is that right?

[00:26:06] Arjun Rai: Yes, exactly.  See what works, see what sticks.  But hopefully, HelloWoofy is the platform that you'll choose because it just does a lot of the work for you for five bucks a month.

[00:26:15] Tania De Ridder:  I saw in an article that you said, quote, ' social media is constantly evolving. And when it comes to making a business case,  you always have to remember that people connecting or conversing online is the same as in-person.  You must come across authentic, value-adding and most importantly,  without an agenda',  unquote. So, Arjun, how do you achieve this as a business? Because you do have an agenda you're trying to sell a product or service.  Can you explain this a little bit more?

[00:26:46] Arjun Rai: Yeah, that's a great point. And that's one of the reasons why I do two Clubhouse events a week now,  which if people don't know is a new social media network completely audio-based,  and it's all about social media marketing one-on-ones for underdogs,   and then startup capital raising one-on-ones for underdogs. And the idea is we don't actually position HelloWoofy as the center of the conversation we actually talk about what are the best trends, what are the best insights and things of that nature. And it's super important to make sure your bio is super focused on what you're looking to achieve as a call to action. So obviously in my bio,  I talk about, HelloWoofy. I talk about what I'm interested in personally,  the fact that anyone can invest as low as a hundred dollars into our Wefunder campaign and own a piece of HelloWoofy.   And we get sales out of it, even though we don't talk about HelloWoofy directly and it may come up in conversation from time to time, the majority of the conversation is super off-brand.  Same thing with this room about startup capital raising we're here to help small businesses learn about how to raise capital,  what a Cap Table is, what is an MVP? What is go to market strategy?   And of course, we get sales out of that as well, because our demographic is small businesses who are looking to own their marketing in social media. But obviously, we're able to do social media,  blogging and smart speakers all at the same time. So it's almost indirectly talking about it. Even when you were talking about it to investors, the first thing you want to know is do they ski, do they cook? Do they do carpentry? Do they  go out on the weekends with their kids, right. I get to know them as human beings.   So while it's important to pitch your company or the service of the product,  get to know the other person.  That would be super important.

[00:28:17] Tania De Ridder: I've noticed that on social media, you are one of the few founders in the digital marketing platform space who consistently feature on your products channels as well.  You're giving helpful 'how to's', you're just sharing about your life in general.  Is this why you've chosen this approach to include yourself as a person within your brand online?

[00:28:37] Arjun Rai: Exactly,  and I encourage founders to do the same thing with their investors as well. I'm friends with all of our investors who have Facebook accounts. And I can stay connected with them outside of the boardroom, outside of the shareholder meetings.  And it's just a more human-level,  humanesque approach to fostering those relationships. And if, and when we IPO, I mean,  some of these individuals are going to be friends with me for almost a decade or maybe half a decade,  people who have believed in me, it's just a different approach and say, 'Hey',  touching base with them every couple of months, every couple of quarters and letting them know how we're doing, so, it's a different approach. So  I'm all about being open, completely open.  I mean, privacy is important from time to time, but for the most part, I'm very open.

[00:29:14] Tania De Ridder: It sounds like you're very values-driven that you have specific values that you find important to you, that you also include within your company.    I've seen on your website, that it says you believe in values-driven marketing,   it's one of your marketing goals at HalloWoofy. Can you talk a little bit more about what that means within your company?  

[00:29:35] Arjun Rai: There's a great book that I was told about on Clubhouse called, 'The Values Factor' by John D Martini.   At the end of the day, what you perceive as being important to you could be entirely different for me.  We could be in the same room, in the same park, in the same mall and you and I would see completely different versions of the mall, the park and the environment. And we could be in the same place, right.  And so for us,  our value is in making sure that small businesses succeed at any cost. They are able to win at any cost when it comes to digital marketing,  we want to build products and services that are super cutting edge,  are able to get the small business owner to the next level. Not just because we can give them better recommendations and so on and so forth, but they're completely different mediums, different tactics, different weapons,  marketing weapons that they can use completely. I mean, it's not about just making the car go faster or adding more seats to the car. It's about just building a different spaceship so that they can go to the whole new world and on a whole new level.

[00:30:30] So those are some of the values that we focus on. Obviously, people are super important for us,   making sure that everyone has a voice in the process, including our investors, including our customers who are also now our investors, thanks to crowdfunding,  equity crowdfunding,  our own team has a say in it as well. So,  I guess family is very important,  having a family approach to making sure there's a community. So that's where our Facebook group comes in 'Content Masters',  and we take feedback in there all the time, what's working, what do we need to improve?  We constantly are promoting our equity crowdfunding campaigns there as well, because that's another way our customers can keep up with our growth and have an upside to it financially as well. 

[00:31:07] Tania De Ridder: You're an innovative company. You're focused on creating that new spaceship, you know, doing things differently, creating a new way,  but I'm also hearing that you're involving everybody.  So how do you balance that while still being able to move fast enough to be first?

[00:31:25] Arjun Rai: Yeah, every time we get a feedback or a recommendation or things like that, we add it to Jira and we add it to our internal tracking systems Zendesk.  It helps us to categorize everything,   and keep up with it as a result of that. The other thing is we keep seeing  what are the questions that keep coming up  in the Facebook group or actually Zendesk for that matter.  And we turned those into  frequently asked questions and we answer those. So those are  the ways we try to keep up from an automation perspective. But other than that, just good old email, good old messenger,   works fine.

[00:31:55] Tania De Ridder:  I love how you practice what you preach on social media. You use a lot of visuals, a lot of video and I'm so happy to see that you do fun stuff. Like you make your own candles  and you cook at home.  So do you plan out this time for yourself in advance or do you have a more impulsive approach  to downtime or relaxing?

[00:32:16] Arjun Rai: A little bit of both, probably more impulsive  than scheduled, just because I am constantly on sales calls constantly on podcasts, constantly in investor calls.  Like today I am so backed up right now.  And I'm going to take some time off in the evening   for myself, but then come back to the grind and finish up the things I need to do.  Every, half a Wednesdays I take off after 1:00 PM.  Just having a breather in the middle of the week,  but then on Saturday morning, I work and Sunday morning I work.  I do sales calls on both days. I do support calls on both days.  And so you have to kind of find your medium,  you know, in between.  Like this Wednesday, I'll probably go down to Washington Square Park here in New York City and just relax a little bit in the dog park,  and then come back and probably,  have cooked dinner and things like that. But then  Thursday,  Friday, back to the grind, nine to six, nine to six,  but then again, weekends I have after 1:00 PM to myself.

[00:33:03] Tania De Ridder: It's good to hear that you have a good support plan for yourself to have that downtime.  

[00:33:08] Arjun Rai: Yeah.

[00:33:09] Tania De Ridder: Entrepreneurs often, when they're starting out,  it's really hard for them to have that work-life balance.   What advice would you have for somebody on finding that balance?

[00:33:19] Arjun Rai: Use Calendly because I was doing calls one at a time for 20 minutes at a time. And we were doing maybe nine to 10,000 a month in revenue. And I certainly realized that, and my dad was actually mentioning, 'why don't you do group calls with salespeople or for sales purposes'. And so Calendly actually has a hidden feature where it says group feature and you can have one calendar event go out to multiple people. And I have it set up to a hundred because Zoom can do up to a hundred people at a time.  And I'm doing like five to 10 people at a time sales calls.    We're doing now 17,000 dollars a month in revenue,  as opposed to nine to 10 that we were doing last year towards the end of the year.  It's just about optimizing your time using the tools that are available more efficiently. It's just a  matter of keeping up with all of that.  So, I recommend making sure you're super focused on your calendar. Your calendar is the most important thing.  Personally,  you're able to visually see where your personal events are, where your professional events are.  I've even, color-coded my events from different levels of tasks. Red means super-priority,  green means a task that I need to get done, but not as high of a priority.  I  just color-coded my entire calendar and I literally live off of it.

[00:34:26]  Tania De Ridder: So reflecting on your entrepreneurial journey, Arjun, which strategy,  habit, or mindset do you think has helped you personally the most?   

[00:34:37] Arjun Rai: Just believing in the fact that everything happens for a reason, it happens for a good reason and that at the end of the day, whatever you require will appear almost miraculously, but it's actually through sheer hard work and that you create your own luck.  So that mindset has been super helpful. And I think everyone should have that.

[00:34:53]  Tania De Ridder:  What advice do you have for first-time entrepreneurs on which relationships they should prioritize as they start out?

[00:35:02] Arjun Rai: The one you have with yourself, for sure.  For the purposes of mental health, purposes of just making yourself a better entrepreneur and things like that. And then focus on the relationship you have with the customer.  Are you building a product that they're able to use easily and things like that?  90% of your product roadmap should be based on that.  And then 10% should be based on moonshot ideas.  The Amazon smart speaker scheduler is one of them. We have other moonshot ideas that are definitely going to be very radically new for small businesses when it comes to digital marketing. But, the 90-10 rule is very important. I have the same motto for my personal life as well.   Spend 90% of my time on things I know, 10% on things, I have no idea about like fashion, real estate,  law and things of that nature. So, that's super important.

[00:35:46] Tania De Ridder:  HelloWoofy has a Facebook group for entrepreneurs called 'Content Masters'  that promotes conversations and support for entrepreneurs.  Can you please share more about this community and how it works?

[00:35:58] Arjun Rai: Yeah, it's an open forum for any one of our customers or even enthusiasts around digital marketing to join. And every single day people are telling us what they like, what we need to improve on.   But more importantly, people are able to learn about the company, see why they should invest in the company,   to own a piece of it. And so our Wefunder campaign,   Wefunder.com/hellowoofie. The link is there quite a bit.  Because we keep asking our customers to invest and they invest because they believe in the product that they're using and they want the upside in terms of the financial uptick.  And also we share resources. We go live in there with other amazing experts who talk about digital marketing tips and tricks. So it's a very much a family of small businesses there. We have about 3000 so far,  and on the platform, we have about 9,000 small businesses.

[00:36:41] Tania De Ridder: I saw that for the Facebook community,  somebody doesn't necessarily have to be a user of  HalloWoofy yet.  They're welcome to join to see what the community is like and learn from others.

[00:36:53] Arjun Rai: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And, I would say a majority of the time they ended up becoming a member as a result because the other thing that also we have in our dashboard is the ability to join every Friday at 12:00 PM Eastern time.   Anyone can join a call and ask questions about how do you do sales funnels? How do you do paid advertising? How do you hire someone on Fiverr?  So that's the benefit of actually being a customer because we do have just an open forum,   live every Friday at 12:00 PM Eastern time.

[00:37:17] Tania De Ridder: That sounds amazing. I'll be sure to share the link in the show notes. Arjun, how can people connect with you if they want to reach out to you?

[00:37:25] Arjun Rai: Just go to HelloWoofy.com,  which is H-E-L-L-O-W-O-O-F-Y-dot-com and just hit the link where it says, schedule a demo or you finger scroll to the bottom, my email's there, which is A-R-J-U-N-at-hello-woofy.com. And just tell us your story of how you run your small business.  What are some of the features that you would have loved to see in a scheduler in a marketing platform? And maybe we'll build it, we'll add it to our roadmap and definitely join our Facebook group as well, Content Masters, which is also linked on our main website.

[00:37:51]  Tania De Ridder: I'll be sure to include all of those in the show notes. Thank you so much for your time today, Arjun, I really appreciate it. 

[00:37:58] Arjun Rai: Thank you. Have a great day guys. Bye.

 

Tania De Ridder owns the copyright of the content and transcripts of the Starting Advantage Podcast, all rights reserved.

Arjun Rai

Founder, CEO & Investor

Arjun Rai is an NYC-based entrepreneur who is on a mission to support small businesses with the power of visualized data science and artificial intelligence for digital marketing at HelloWoofy.com. A firm believer that every SMB should have an unfair advantage to compete against unlimited marketing budgets. He has raised from professional investors and personally invested nearly $500,000 in pre-seed VC funding as well as obtained corporate partners (including Fortune 500 companies, such as Microsoft and Google) resulting in over $135,000 in strategic resources.

Since high school, Arjun has been networking with some of the most well-known entrepreneurs and even worked on a few projects and startups of his own. Upon graduation, Arjun pursued his career opportunities and came to New York City where he enrolled at the New York Institute of Technology in 2011 with scholarships and grants. Following a few weeks into college, Arjun launched his second startup, fuelbrite.com, a social media agency focused on small businesses and startups, and a student-focused organization, TheBizDen. Arjun currently lives in New York City with his girlfriend, two cats and a dog. You can find him working from home, doing carpentry, pitching his startup at a meetup or driving around town on his e-scooter.