Business Dreams & Nightmares – Marc @ – EV Ep. 12

For the longest time,
I was coming at it from a position of fear. It’s like, oh, I
can’t live without– I can even think
about what it’s going to be like to hire to
replace that person. You know, it’s going to be more
work for me in the interim. I just can’t handle it, right? But the reality is that once
you free up capital, a seat, and if you have the
mechanism in place, if you have the culture in
place that attracts talent, once you can just
get over that hump and you have that new
talent in the right seat, they’re going to blow
your mind, right? And then you’re going to
kick yourself in the ass for not having done
it sooner, and that’s kind of what I realized. Because there’s
definitely some positions that we waited years
and years and years too long before acting. We knew way back in the day. We knew five years before
that it was the wrong person, but we just said, oh, we
got to just keep afloat, keep this thing going. But once you’ve realized
that, just pull the Band-Aid. Rip it off. We’re going to
survive through this and we’re going to
be better off for it. [? Admission ?] sequence
starts in 3, 2, 1. Jeez, that’s loud. What’s up, man? Welcome to my home, my brother. Thanks, man. Dude, it’s good
to have you here. For those that don’t know,
you’re one of my good buddies. We’re here in my house in
Moncton, New Brunswick, and I’m excited
to chat with you. We’ve known each other
for five years now? Four years? Five years for sure. OK, five years, maybe six. Newish friends, but I
mean, vacation together, play dates with the kids. I hijacked your
house to organize an event a couple of weeks ago. You did. There wasn’t really a question
if you’re doing it or not. I was like surf and
turf at Marc’s house, and I invited some people. Let’s start off with DPL,
your technology company. How long ago did you start it? Who is your customer, and how
has that journey been so far? Wow, all right. Well, I’m more of
re-founder than a founder. Company itself was
founded in 1974. So when I came in as
an employee in 1997, the place was a
well-established kind of industrial engineering firm. And I started working in R&D
and doing a lot of prototyping of new markets that
we wanted to get into in the telecom industry. And yeah, I eventually
just quickly went from new employee to leading
the team to really spearheading some new wireless–
this was really, really early days
of wireless, right? This was analog days,
before digital networks. Is that what the
StarTAC ran on, analog? Yeah. StarTAC was my
favorite cell phone. Yeah. Like I almost wish they
made an iPhone StarTAC. Yeah. Was that the little
block flip one? Yeah. You just flip, man. That was my first cell phone. Motorola. Yeah, it was a great phone. Yeah. Well, but that’s the early days. And the way that you actually
transferred data on that was using the dial tones. So yeah, it was super– like
you could only transfer, I don’t know, like– Kilobits. 48 bits– no, 48 bits of data. So we were transferring like GPS
locations through that means. And yeah, so this was
really, really early days. And the two original
owners, they were kind of looking
at retirement. They were like early
50s at that point. And they sold off all the other
divisions and, all of a sudden, we were stuck with this
R&D, all of this IP that we had worked on. And yeah, so we kind of all
got together and decided, well, how about we– Commercialize. Yeah, commercialize
some of this stuff and see if we can actually make
a go at it, because we really didn’t have any markets. And we had a couple of ideas and
really early, early prototypes. And yeah, I was lucky
enough to actually have some really good
early mentors like that, and they kind of helped me. They brought me
along for the ride and we started kind
of equal partnership. So you would have been late 20s? I would have been late
20s at that point, yeah. And these guys were in their
50s, looking for kind of a– Yeah. They were looking for new blood. But they were smart
because they saw talent in myself and my other partner,
and the hustle and the drive. Super smart. Yeah. I mean, today, DPL has
got how many customers around the world? 1,300 customers, almost
40,000 ATMs using our gear. And it’s a recurring
revenue model, so yeah. Yeah, so a subscription. And for those that
don’t understand the DPL model, what is it? Who’s your customer? What’s the product today? Because I know there’s
been iterations, but today, what does it look like? Yeah. So the biggest
part of our market is wireless connectivity and
management for ATM machines. Cool. Yeah. So it replaces like network
lines and phone lines for your ATM machines. And this is the
kind of ATM that you see in corner stores and bars. They’re called the white label. The other ones are
charging 5 bucks for– Yeah. Someone’s making money. Oh, jeez, I know it. I’m like, OK. I always wanted
to pay 1%, so I’m like, how much max can I
take out in cash to not have to pay those fees? But they get you because they’re
in a convenient location. Yeah. So you provide the connectivity
because a lot of people don’t realize that they don’t
come with a built-in [? EDTO ?] card, or some kind
of connectivity. You have to pay almost
for a phone line. Yeah. And then what’s your
pricing model like? Is it like 15 bucks a
month, or how does that– We charge 10. I mean, back in the day we were
charging almost $30 a month. Because we were
replacing phone lines, which cost a lot more than
that for business lines, right? Yeah. But now it’s all internet
lines, and oftentimes there’s a local internet. So we’ve had to kind of
adjust our prices down. So our sweet spot
has been like $9.99. So there’s some companies
that sell just wireless modems around the $5 mark,
but we’ve really targeted the premium model. And what makes it premium? And the reason I ask
is I think what’s interesting about your story,
Marc, and I’ve told you this is the fact that you
were technical founder, didn’t really kind
of lend yourself to the management side. And a few years ago, you
stepped up and you’re CEO. Yeah. You run the company
and have brought it to new levels of growth. But when it comes to having
to navigate that innovation, the pricing structure,
how have you been able– because you’ve been
doing it for a long time. Yeah. What did you learn about
being competitive in a market? Because I think it’s
easy to get complacent and you’ve been able to
do a good job at that. It’s a lot of things. I don’t know that there’s
any one singular thing. I think it’s really
understanding what your ideal customer
really, really needs. And it’s more than just
the commoditize part. Did you ever go all over the
place with the customer side, like choosing the customer? Have you always had– it sounds like it’s very crystal
clear, premium ATM owners, and I mean– Yeah. And there’s branch
offs from that, too. But I think for us, when we
kind of fell into this market almost sideways–
because we were doing like GPS anti-theft
for heavy construction. On the vehicle side. On the vehicle side. And all of a sudden, one
of my business partners– you know one of
those lottery booths where you can get
tickets and whatnot– and there was an ATM there. They got broken into. And he was talking
with the owner, and he said, well,
you know, what if we offered you
like GPS anti-theft for your ATM machine? And the guy
mentioned well, yeah, but I don’t want
to pay extra fees, so it’d be nice if I could get
rid of these phone line fees. Just like that. Wow. I know. And then all of a sudden,
it’s like, well, jeez. And we didn’t even
do any business– we didn’t check to see if
there was competing products or whatever. We just said, hey. You just built it. We could do that. So we built it, and
all of a sudden, we realized that we’re
almost the only ones out there that can do this. And we solved really,
really complicated problems as we kind of went
further down the line, and we created almost like
a monopoly early, early on. Yeah. How long ago was that moment? This was in 2006. OK, so 13 years ago. 13 years ago, so a
lot of things have changed, including a lot of
new blood into the market. And what we realized was
that we had a great product, but we had no sales team. And so we were
kind of the victim of our own success
in a way because we would show up at a trade show. And then take orders. Everybody would be
like, oh my god. They were like seagulls,
like order takers. Yeah. And then our customers
would sell to their friends. And so that was kind
of our sales team. Yeah, yeah, word of mouth. Just build something great. Automatically, we had
super fans and they would sell to each other. But when competition set in– How long ago did that start? Probably a couple of years
after that, so around 20. So you had two or three
years of like oh my gosh, here’s the gold rush. Yeah. Try to keep the
lightning in the bottle. Yeah. Because you built a
really incredible product to a problem that was in the
market that didn’t exist, right? So it’s interesting
because you were in it, you know I mean,
for so many years, from R&D to the vehicle stuff. So looking back, the whole
connecting the dots, to me, it’s like, oh, it’s
obvious in hindsight, but then there was this
moment where you’re like, OK, let’s do it. Some people don’t
pull the trigger, don’t decide to
go down that path. You guys did. And then how long do you think– because the market’s
also probably growing, the ATM market. Yeah. How long were you
working in that market before you felt the
competition, and all of a sudden you started
maybe losing against deals, or you felt like
other people were– Yeah. If you look at the chart– and I think I’ve probably
shared this online before. But we had hockey stick
growth for, say, 2006 to 2012. 2012 flatlined. We flatlined. We hit the wall. You literally see
the chart just boom. Yeah. Complete flatline, and
we stayed flatlined for five years,
four or five years until like the last two years. And that’s been my
biggest challenge. It’s like all of a
sudden, you realize that you were only
like half a company and you were successful. That’s interesting,
half a company. And you say that because you
didn’t have the other part of– Yeah, a vital part. And the problem is is
that all of a sudden you realize, hey, man,
this is easier. And you don’t realize what
you don’t know, and certainly from my perspective. And I think you’re right. I mean, I was in the dungeon
and I was building product, and I was happy there. That’s how I kind of
perceived myself, right? I had kind of put
myself in that box. Oh, I’m a developer, or I’m a
product architect, or whatever. Like I’m a CTO. That’s where I operate. I’m going to do the best job. But ultimately, we realized
that the company needed a lot more than we had, and
then that became the biggest challenge that we had to face. That’s crazy. So was it reaction
right at the beginning when you’d seen it flatline? No, no. We were making so
much money coming in, even when we were flatlined. I know. I never like to tell
people’s numbers, but I know the numbers. It’s an incredible business. Yeah. So it’s not broken. It’s not broken. Yeah, you’re not growing, but
you’re making a ton of money. Yeah. Like I’m in the dungeon
building product and I’m still taking
home ridiculous money. Yeah. So I’m like, hey, there’s
no problem, right? No problem with me. Nope, there’s no problem there. And I wasn’t really paying
attention to the numbers, and I’m sure like
someone was maybe looking at, but maybe not. But like yeah, we
were just basically– money was coming in. Then what happened that went on
for, sounds like, five years. What happened on
year four or five that made you realize like
there’s a problem to be solved. Like was it the profit? Was it the culture? Was it the– yeah. Yeah, it’s a bunch of things. During that time, the amount
of work that I had to do– I was really, really unhappy. So at the time when the business
was the most successful– like we were flatlined, right? But we were successful, say,
from a monetary point of view, right? Yeah. And I was really, really,
really unhappy and burnt out. I had worked myself to the
bone for so many years. I don’t have the natural
self-regulation, right? I don’t know when to stop. I will just keep working
and working and working and grinding it out,
and there is just so many things that just piled up. Was this right around
when [INAUDIBLE] your first [INAUDIBLE] Well, yeah. Well, that’s 2010. So yeah, that was
really starting– Did that– Yeah. We had my first daughter
when we were really cresting and just before we flatlined. We were scaling so
fast and we were just trying, keeping everything
together and patched up just so that we could
keep growing and selling. It put a lot of stress. And we had complications with
my wife having our daughter, and health complications and
stuff with both the child and the mom. And yeah, it just
ended up being kind of the catalyst for feeling
like this is just not worth it anymore. Do you remember the moment, like
the rock bottom in that moment? Yeah, I do. Yeah, I was ready to sell. We were two weeks away. Our main competitor
in the US came in and they made us an offer. And we said, OK well,
let’s just sell. My heart wasn’t in it anymore. I hated everything about– not everything,
but so many things about my situation
and the company. The culture was absolutely
rotten to the core and I had the wrong people. I had some right
people, but there was a lot of wrong people
in the wrong seats, and a culture of fear. Like everybody had to
be micromanaged to get anything out of them. And yeah, so we signed
a letter of intent. We went through probably
$200,000 worth of US and Canadian accountants
and lawyers and whatnot, and we were two weeks
away from signing. And then we just sat down,
me and my three partners, and we just said something,
it didn’t smell right. You know, like
this was our baby. I had worked so hard for this. And we just kind of agreed to
well, if we’re going to stick, if we’re not going
to sell, things have to change drastically. And they gave me a
carte blanche, you know. So they saw in
me– like I didn’t think that I was going
to be that guy, right? I didn’t think I was going
to be the CEO or the guy to lead this charge,
but they believed in me. And this was the
two older original, we’ll call them the OGs. Yeah. And your current partner– And my current
business partner, yeah. –said to you, Marc, if
we’re going to do this, here’s a white piece of paper. Pretty much. Yeah. What are we doing? Yeah. And so you know, I did. I did. But to me, what I was hunting
for was not necessarily– at that time, we
hadn’t really realized the full impact of what
this flattening out meant to the business. Money was still coming in. So I was after being happy. I wanted to be happy. And so that’s really
what my objectives were. So the first thing
I did was basically figure out and
learn everything I could about what it
takes to be a CEO, but also how to build a culture
that I could actually be happy, actually go to work
every day and actually enjoy myself, and see other
people around me actually thriving and being the
best version of themselves that they can be. And so that was a big challenge. How did you fix
the culture side? Because I mean, it’s one
thing to recognize that you’ve got the wrong people on the
bus, but then there’s also work that needs to get done. Yeah. You know, there’s
people that probably have been with you
for a while that had a lot of deep domain
expertise that might not be easy to hire. Like there’s all
these challenges when one person on your
team has to go, let alone– Yeah. Like how many people did you
end up having to transition? Yeah. Yeah, and it is transition
because some were let go, but a lot also left
on their own accord. Because once you start building
something that’s for a very specific target employee,
that part of the team– you’re trying to design an
ecosystem for a different team– people are naturally going
to be either attracted to it or they’re going to
be pushed away by it. Right? So oh, jeez. Polarizing. No, no. Yeah, it’s very polarizing,
but that’s a good thing, because then it’s more
black and white, right? Then you really who
you’re attracting, and it’s engineered that way. So yeah. I mean, look, I’m not the
most deliberate guy out there. So I think that
the idea was that I was going to do this
first and foremost for me. What do I want to see? And it’s like building
a family, right? So you’re building a home. You’re building a family. You’re making choices so
that everybody can be safe, a place that they can do their
best work, a place that they actually want to go. And ultimately, if
it works for me, then I hope that it’s
the right decision enough that it’s going to work
for others as well, right? And how many people,
as a percentage, were impacted transition-wise? At least half. So if you look back
on who’s here now and who was here five years
ago, at least half the people are gone. Wow. Yeah, and we’re 25 now. Yeah. So that’s a big amount of
money and a lot of transition, and it’s scary. For those that
stayed, you’re seeing a lot of people kind
of go like that, right? I know from my
perspective, it’s exciting, because every time one of those
one of those things moves, it brings me closer
to my end goal. To the vision, yeah. To the vision, right? But for someone who’s
sitting next to someone who’s been there for seven
years, who you would never think would be one of the ones
to go, and all of a sudden you see that they’re gone. What have you learned about
that transition in regards to the beliefs you had
prior to going into it versus how it’s ended up today? About myself? No. Just often I find,
personally, it’s like anything you’ve got–
tough decisions are tough. And then in
hindsight, typically, you discover that
it was never as bad or there was these
new opportunities. And I’m not saying
that’s what happened, but I’m just curious like, if
you look back at before you had to make those
transitions, you decide, OK, culture’s changing. I’m creating a place
I love to work. Because the reality of it
is, as an entrepreneur, is that the super power is
the passionate entrepreneur. And if that’s not
present, then the business is not going to grow. So you gave yourself
permission to say, I’m going to start throwing
some hand grenades, because if this
doesn’t get fixed, there is nothing going
to be here anyway because I’m not happy. Yeah. So it’s kind of
liberating and also scary. So like what did
you believe prior to making those
changes versus what was the reality afterwards? And maybe it was exactly
what you thought or? No, it wasn’t. I mean, look, for
the longest time, I was coming at it from
a position of fear. It’s like, oh, I
can’t live without– I can’t even think
about what it’s going to be like to hire
to replace that person. It’s going to be more work
for me in the interim. I just can’t handle it, right? But the reality is is that once
you free up capital, a seat, and if you have the
mechanism in place, if you have the culture in
place that attracts talent, once you can just
get over that hump and you have that new
talent in the right seat, they’re going to blow your mind. Right? And then you’re going to
kick yourself in the ass for not having done
it sooner, and that’s kind of what I realized. Because there’s
definitely some positions that we waited like
years and years and years too long before acting. We knew way back in the day. We knew five years before
that it was the wrong person, but we just said, oh, we
got to just keep afloat, keep this thing going, right? So we just had like
a lot of cling ons. Yeah. Right? That just were there. I’ve never heard that
term, but I love it. Cling on. They were there. They were the wrong
person in the wrong seat. Yeah. And yeah, it was scary. But once you kind of realize,
just pull the Band-Aid. Rip it of.f We’re going to
survive through this and we’re going to
be better off for it. And how did you go about
fixing or learning, or you said the other half. We were half of a business. How did you figure
that stuff out? Go where the knowledge
is at, right? Expose myself to the best
of the best out there. I mean, we’re lucky
because you’re a flight away from having
access nowadays, right? So I had the money. So I have money. I can fly anywhere I want. I can talk to anyone that
I can have access to. But really, just read. Read, read, read. I mean, I’m always
reading a book. I don’t read a book
a week, that’s crazy, but I’m always
reading something. And I don’t know, I
mean, at some point, you go from the time you spent
trying to learn something, and then you just
start executing. And over time, it just
kind of grows and grows. And then all of a
sudden, you realize that, two years
down the line, you kind of know what you’re doing. But it’s an
accumulation of risks that you’re taking
with new knowledge that you don’t know whether
it’s going to work or not. When you look back
at your habits or your daily routine prior– seven years plus versus today– on a daily, weekly basis,
what’s the big difference? Like if somebody could watch
the game tape versus today’s, what would they see different? That’s a good question. I think if you were to look
at who I was back then, you would say that I’m like
a wild animal in a cage, or not in a cage
in a lot of ways. I’m just mindlessly,
non-deliberately just doing whatever it takes. It’s like putting
out fires, right? I was an expert at just
always fire putting, right? But that’s not the
skill set that you need to really grow and
thrive and build a business. You have to be deliberate. And I think there’s a lot
more of that organization in my process nowadays. How does that look? Like what’s some of those habits
on a weekly, daily, monthly? Self-care, right? Like if I don’t watch myself,
I would work myself to death. OK. What do you consider self-care? Self-care as in knowing when to
shut off, knowing when to stop. You know, don’t work
till 2, 3 o’clock in the morning every night. You have to stop so you can take
care of your sleep patterns. I mean, I suffered from insomnia
for years and years and years. And I was popping pills and
stuff, trying to fix that, and everything
was broken, right? Again, I was untamed. And through this process,
I think that at least– I’m not perfect,
by any means, but I think that I’ve
found a way to tame my less desirable instincts. So you never felt like
there was an issue? Like putting in the work,
you didn’t have that issue? No. Well, no. If anything, you have
to watch yourself. I do. Because when you
bite into something. Yeah. And so I have a hard
time giving advice to people on how to motivate
yourself because I’m naturally like just obsessive
about something that I’m passionate
about, and I’m going to spend like an insane
amount of hours doing it. So if someone needs help on how
to get there, that’s not me, because that’s my superpower,
in a sense, and also my biggest kryptonite. Yeah. Right? Because I could kill myself and
kill my relationship and just spread unhappiness around me. Create suffering, yeah. Yeah. So I’ve had to really
figure out, what do I want? Because I never asked myself
that question before, right? Like I was just doing. So until I actually started
figuring out, well, what is it do I actually want? Because I was never motivated. Sorry, I was never
motivated by money. I was just motivated
by doing, creating, the creative part of what I do. And then I would
just obsess about it and just put in the
hours, whatever, right? So there’s people out
there that they know everything about everything. So a developer. You’re a software developer. Yeah. There’s developers
out there that know every design pattern there is. They know the syntax. They’ve read every manual
on it, and then that’s how they operate. Not me. I’m not a perfectionist when it
comes to my own knowledge base, but I’m obsessed
about what it takes to create something and put
it out into the real world and not touching
it for 10 years. Right, so to me,
that’s kind of the bar. If you’re going to
build a physical product and put it out there, you
can’t build a business unless it’s at such a
high level, quality-wise and everything else,
that it’s going to stand the test of time. Yeah, there’s no software
updates easily in your world. Well, no. Like it’s physical
hardware in a machine. It’s got to stand
the test of time. Yeah. It’s got to be well-tested. You said that you asked
yourself, what did you want? What was the answer
to that question? Well, I wanted to
be happy, so hunting on what does that mean for me? Well, when it came
to my work– well, I wanted to have
balance, first of all, so that I could actually
maintain a family, right? So that was really important so
I could spend time with my kids my wife and have
that as my anchor. But on the business side, I
think that I needed to provide, I think, for others
what I didn’t get. You know, this sense
of overwhelming weight on your shoulders that you have
from kind of living in chaos. I wanted to see if I
could actually create something completely different. I guess take care of my
employees and give them that. And I think that we’re
pretty much there, in terms of the balance
between environment, good culture, and also
optimize for being able to do the best work. Because we’re still a business
at the end of the day, right? Yeah. So I need output
from my employees. It’s not just a
country club, right? So yeah. I mean, they’re happy. I’m happy. And the business
has turned around. The business has
turned around, yeah. We’ve developed a whole– Did you have a record month last
month or something like that? In the last 1, 2, 3, 4– I think since Christmas,
we’ve had three record months, and we keep busting. It’s kind of a funny thing. August has always been our
worst month, traditionally. Yeah. It’s always been
this weird thing. People are on vacation. Yeah, people are on
vacation, whatever. There’s almost no sales
in August every year. And this year it’s going
to be a regular month. Like, yeah. So three times
our average sales. So what did you change in the
business to make that happen? Like what was the other half,
and how did you fix that? The sales part? Whatever the other– you
said you had half a business. Yeah, I half a business,
yeah, so like engineering. And I think that there’s
a lot of companies like that in this area. Totally. You know, there’s great
engineering companies around here, but
how do you actually sell on the global market? We were very much like
a lot of other companies in that we really
didn’t have it. There’s not a lot of
culture of sales around here for this sort of company. Yeah. Look, I got a lot of really
smart people around me. I have a really good
leadership team. But like what, tactically,
what did you do? Did you hire some people? Did you start to do marketing? Somebody is listening to
this and they’re like, OK, I’m in your boat, Marc. All right. Please give me a checklist
because I need to fix this. All of it. All of it. So we basically built a
customer journey figure. First of all,
figuring out, who is going to be our ideal
customer, right? So we really didn’t know. We were just selling. When you take an order, you’re
not really looking to see and questioning
who’s taking orders. [INTERPOSING VOICES] Got to check. Yeah. Yeah, so really figuring out
what our ideal customer is. We didn’t really even know what
our core value proposition was. We didn’t understand
our product’s value to the customer. So once we figured out
that through a series of whether it was
analyzing the data we had, looking to see who cared
the most about our product. And then when we
started hiring, we first started hiring one sales guy. And then we spent the
next year experimenting. OK, if we try selling this way,
if we do this pitch, what’s going to work? Like what actually works? Because you’re competing
against a whole bunch of other companies
who are kind of trying their own tactics and they’re
doing their own thing. But we didn’t know what’s going
to work for us, because we’re a premium product. ‘Cause if we were selling just
the lowest priced product, well, that’s easy, right? Just find that price. Lower your price. But we didn’t want to do that. So we experimented on
price, but to a point. So finding the
ideal price, where we’re going to be able to
convert as many people. You’re fighting off
competition so you have to be aware of that. Articulating the values
that are actually useful. So when you talk about the
future and the benefits that you have, when
you actually mention those, that it converts. So which ones actually convert? Because you know, you can say– OK, so one of the
features of our product is that you can remotely
hard reset an ATM machine. Some people care about
that, some don’t. Some people who were using
it, we weren’t even marketing to these features. So we’re coming at it,
well, we have this product. We have this add on feature. Who cares about this? If we’re going to actually
sell using that feature, do people actually care? Yeah. We can think that
it’s pretty cool, but unless you can actually
phrase it and formulate some sort of a marketing and
sales strategy based on that, and prove that there’s actually
a valid and valuable reason for a customer to
care, it’s just us, a bunch of geeks
behind the scenes that think that
it’s going to work. How did you get the leads for
that sales guy to test those? Well, first, inbound. We have 1,200 customers that are
always buying from us, right? Yeah. And so existing
customers, right? So existing customers that
don’t use those features, you can try to upsell and
see how that converts. A lot of people just
didn’t know about it. So for us, all of a sudden– So he just called on
existing customers. Yeah. Did a needs assessment. Yeah. And say, hey, we
got these things. And they were just add-ons,
so expansion revenue. Well, so exactly. So expansion revenue, but then
you’re figuring out, well– because communications for a
modem is the commodity part. Yeah. You can go off and buy a
whole bunch of off the shelf kind of gear, and the
competition, that’s kind of where they live. Yeah. But if you’re trying to
just sell on commodity, the only thing you can really
talk about is the price. Yeah. And the quality. But you never want to
fight that fight, right? Oh, yeah. Our product is higher quality. Get it. That doesn’t work. No. But now, if there is this
belief in the industry that you have a higher
quality product, you can leverage that fact. But a new customer
that doesn’t know you, you can’t try to sell
something based on quality because they’re not
going to pay the premium. They don’t get it. It’s like buying insurance. They don’t know they need
it until they have an issue. Exactly. So they just assume quality– Yeah, but that’s
our ideal customer. We’ve realized that our
ideal customer is not necessarily the guy that’s
like new in the game. It’s the person
that actually has felt the pain that we
can actually address in our marketing and sales. Oh, so someone who’s been
around longer that’s had to go physically drive
to reboot the machine. Exactly. Or had a machine stolen. Yeah. So it’s almost like in your
sales call, it could be like, have you ever had these really
bad things happen to you? Exactly. If it’s 100%, you’re
like, giddy up. Let’s go. Oh, that’s really neat. So did that iteration
with the inbound, but then, obviously, had to
build a marketing process? Yeah. We were kind of doing
everything at the same time. So the marketing
part is for driving– for us, anyway– it was to drive
interest and brand building and kind of really
build ourselves up as being the authority
for whatever we chose that to be within the industry. And we do some inbound, but like
99% of our conversion is phone. OK. You talk to the guy, and we
have a high conversion rate. But are you doing
outbound calls on that or are there coming to you? Yeah, we’re doing outbound
phone calls as well. Is it cold calls? We’re doing some cold calls. OK. Yeah, so we’ll go
through the internet and generate lists
of potential targets. Like, what’s our target? Well, every company
that has ATMs. Yeah. Right? So anybody that doesn’t
know DPL, we just call them. And usually, it’s a
process of multiple months, of multiple calls. Yeah. But it’s not sophisticated
from that sense. You know, you have
to talk to people. Yeah. And once you’re on the radar– and one thing that
we found works really well is doing things like free. Demos We’ll send you a device. Oh, like the Zappos
model for shoes. Yeah. Now we’re doing a
free device for life. So we’ll give you a device
for free, free and no charge for life. Even on the monthly
subscription? Yeah. Whoa. Yeah. Your first device is free. Because you know– We know that we’re
going to convert. Whoa. That’s a great offer. So we know how much
that’s going to cost. But think about it, we’re
either going to pay for– Ads. –like Facebook ads or whatever,
which don’t convert for us, or we’re going to
put that money– because we know that every
company that buys one of our devices is going to– for every device
they buy, they’re going to keep paying us,
first for the hardware, and then they’re going to
pay us for the next seven, eight, nine years. So lifetime value
of customer is high. Lifetime value is super high. And it’s not one
[? price ?] per customer, it’s 50, 100, 500 [INAUDIBLE]. That’s brilliant. Like you say, look,
this is what it costs us to acquire customers. This is what I’m willing to
invest to get a customer. Sure. You kind of know, I mean, how
many customers in the market, in the world, that have ATM,
like at your target segments. Yeah. It’s like 20,000 probably. Well, probably not that much. OK, so not even. So it’s like you
know that if I just– and what a great conversation. It’s like, hey, we believe
so much in our product, we’re just going to send you
one for free, no service. No strings. No strings attached. Yeah I know it sounds too great. Yeah. Just try it, because
essentially, you’re going to love it
and you’re going to want to upgrade all your
other machines because you can’t believe they don’t
have these features. Exactly. Dude, that’s amazing. Yeah. So it’s really trying to uncover
what that is for your company to the market you want to serve. Yeah. Right? Like the market,
the target market, the value proposition
that they care about. Yeah. And then just figure
out how can you create an irresistible offer. Exactly. Man, I didn’t know that. That’s really cool, Marc. Yeah. If an entrepreneur is struggling
with where you were at, what book would you
tell them to start with, or what’s the top three? Which part of the
struggle, because there’s been a lot, right? There’s been my
personal struggle. Let’s start with just like
not happy in the business. Is there anything
that comes to mind? Yeah. I mean, one of my favorite
authors is Ryan Holiday, and something like Ego is the
Enemy and Obstacle Is the Way. It’s really re-framing
the struggle so that you can
actually start seeing it not so much as a negative. You have to start shedding that
weight from your shoulders. And start seeing it as
a positive thing, right? Like OK, this is what it is. It doesn’t have to be this way. There’s this world
of opportunity that can change the
way that I think. I can detached the
outcome from myself. It doesn’t have to
be me and own me. And also, the cool thing about
transitioning into a growth mindset is that you
can separate yourself from the outcome, which is kind
of the ego is the enemy thing. If you screw up, which you will,
all the time, especially when you’re pushing yourself and
you’re driving yourself, it’s like, how do you
not be hard on yourself? Right? How do you somehow become
OK with exposing yourself to, really, the harsh
reality of growth, and not let that take you down? And I think that
you have to have that conversation with
yourself, and figuring out, what are your motivations? Why are you doing what you do? Why are you how you are? What motivates you? Because if you don’t
understand yourself, then you’re going to make
a whole bunch of decisions that you’re not
going to understand why you’re doing them. So that’s the first
thing, I find, is that’s the foundational part. Because there’s a
lot of entrepreneurs that self-sabotage. What do you mean by that? Well, you know, like we
keep doing the same things and expecting different
results, and we end up just diving over the deep end. So for instance, imagine that
your product is your baby, and it is. All that work that you put
into a particular product got you where it’s at. You self-identify with all
that work that you’ve done. That thing becomes you. You’re one and it, and then
you never know when to quit. Your self-worth is tied up– Oh, absolutely. –into that business,
that product. That business, that product. I call it shooting
your baby in the head. You’re unable to shoot
your baby in the head when your baby needs to die. So you just hold
on, you hold on, and you go down with the ship,
because you’re wrapped up in this thing at
such a deep level that it will tear you
down and bring you down. So you’ve got to be deeply
committed, but yet also being able to actually
separate yourself from it and question it. Is this thing going to
get me where I need to go? Because you know how it is. In business, at some
point, you’ve got to pivot. At some point, you
have to reinvent. So there’s no black
and white prescription for when that should be done. It’s an art more than a science
in a lot of ways, right? You’ve got to trust yourself,
but at the same time, you’ve got to be aware enough
about this whole reality that you know when to act. Because if you don’t
act at the right time, then the ship’s going
to go down or you’re going to self-destruct. So I think it’s important
to really understand yourself, and also
your relationships with your employees, with
your business partners. If you don’t realize what
role ego has in that, then you’re not able to
actually say, I’m wrong. I’m sorry. I was wrong. That was totally screwed up. You were right. I’m going to think
about this more. I’m going to change. I’m not going to
let this define me. So all these conversations
are really, really hard for driven– Type A. Big type A personalities. Because we have this
fire inside and we can easily think that
we’re always right, and that can be the death of us. We get frustrated with
the people around us. You get super frustrated. So one of the things that I’ve
learned how to be better at is instead of being frustrated
all the time at my maybe perceived impression that people
are doing the wrong thing, now it’s about I try to take a
step back and figure out, OK, what am I not doing
right that’s not providing the right
environment for that employee to be able to give me
what I need from them? That’s a different
question, right? How come they’re
not doing the thing that I need them to do versus
what am I not providing them that’s going to
lead them to the outcome that I need from them? One is you’re almost like
a subservient or a slave to that situation. The other one, you’re empowered. You’re empowered to do
something, change something, instead of just being
frustrated all the time. So that’s made a big difference. What a re-frame. Yeah. What do you think the
Marc of 10 years ago would say listening to you? You’re crazy. Like, what’s this stuff? Yeah. It’s a strange
thing, but I think it’s part of the stuff
you have to just let go if you’re going to grow. I just love because it
gives you back the power. Yeah. What you just shared,
for me, is we can either feel powerless or empowered. Same situation, different lens. And in one case, we get
angry and frustrated at people, and the
other one, it’s this beautiful question
to change the situation. Yeah. That’s really powerful. It’s freeing. I know we’ve been talking a
lot about this conversation, but who did you
need to become to be the CEO of the
successful growing DPL? I needed to stop
being the kid that was afraid of being someone
they didn’t think they were. I needed to start seeing myself
through the lens of maybe other people, rather than seeing
through my own limited lens view of myself, right? I never ever thought and
viewed myself as a leader, but I was in a lot of ways. I was very much a
leader in my own realm, but I never really
perceived myself as one. And so when it came
time to become CEO, I was really, really
insecure, and I didn’t know if I was capable
because I didn’t see myself like that. But it took being
well surrounded by other entrepreneurs, yourself
included, who saw in me, I think, things that I didn’t
see in myself, or at least didn’t see the same barriers
that I saw in myself. At that time, you didn’t
know me all that well, but you knew enough
to not hold me accountable for things
you didn’t really know about me, right? So you didn’t have
those limiting beliefs in the same way that
I had about myself. You saw potential. That’s the kind of
way that you operate. You see potential
in others, but I didn’t see potential
in myself in that way. I was very, very
confident in some ways, but very, very
insecure in others. But then after that, it’s
just applying the same ethic that I’ve had, the same
obsessive ethic at becoming a leader, the best
leader that I could that I’ve kind of proven that
I could do in another realm. As soon as I could just shed
that limiting belief, then I could just move forward
and run, instead of crawl. And the rest is just work. You learn. You lead. You make mistakes. You get back up. You say you’re sorry. You do better next time. And if you do that well
enough, then you’re going to notice that you have
a team that is always watching out for you and wants the
best for you, supportive, and they believe in you. And if you pick the right people
to surround yourself with, there’s nothing you
can’t do, really. Marc, where do
people fall along– I know you share a lot. That’s what I love about
you guys, shooting videos, getting yourself in
trouble sometimes. Where should people go, A,
if they have an ATM machine and they should make
the switch over? They’re not a DPL customer,
and your personal stuff, where do you think
people should go? So business is My personal stuff is Marc
Albert, just on Facebook. I share a lot. I have a bunch of things. I’m obsessed about more
than one thing in life. I love music. I’m a singer/songwriter. Yeah, I love
sharing with people. I know you’ve got a big heart
and you like to mentor others and give advice. So if anybody’s
interested, follow Marc. Dude. Appreciate you, man. Thanks, man. Thanks for coming on. Thanks. Thanks for watching this
episode of Escape Velocity. Be sure to like and
subscribe and leave a comment with your biggest
insight from our conversation. Be sure and check
out the next episode.

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