We love a good story here on the Heart Of Business and Vaibhav Namburi is no difference. He left India for his education and found a career, starting a company, Five 2 One, dedicated to helping people make their dreams come true by creating apps and AI for businesses across the globe. They’ve even worked with the UN! This episode is packed with lessons Vaibhav has learned along the way and advice for others looking to pursue their own passions.
It’s one of those things where I’m building stuff and I’m like, ‘Okay this is very hard. It’s tough for me, I can’t figure it out, blah, blah, blah.’ And then you’re like, ‘You know what? You said that the other day, you’ll figure it out. Even if you don’t, you will find the right people to help you figure it out.’
00:00 Andy Shore: How are you doing today, Vaibhav?
00:02 Vaibhav Namburi: Mate, you got my name right. So, well done. I’m doing bloody bloody well. How about yourself?
00:07 AS: I’m doing great, thanks. I have to admit, I went to YouTube and watched a couple of videos of you saying it, so that I knew I would say it right? [laughter] I did my homework, and it paid off and I’m glad.
00:18 VN: Well done.
00:19 AS: But for the listeners who haven’t done their homework, maybe can you tell us a little bit about 521.
00:24 VN: Sure, for sure. Hey guys, my name is Vaibhav. I commonly go by V. We’re a product studio-based in Sydney, do a lot of apps, products, and machine learning, and blockchain solutions for people. So we’ve been lucky enough to work with the likes of the United Nations, with DeVry, PwC, KPMG, News Corp and the big ones and a couple of cool startups as well as global corporations.
00:55 Daniel Miller: Nice.
00:55 AS: And how did you wind up in Australia to begin with?
01:00 VN: Fair enough. I actually had a bit of a globetrotter story. So my dad works for a large corporate, so we moved around eight countries or seven. And I came to Australia about eight years ago, just to do my undergrad. And after that, just started working and ended up here because my sister was actually here before me. I was about to go to the States but then I decided to come here, which I guess paid off in its own way.
01:27 DM: Very nice. So, I’m actually kind of curious, where did the name 521 come from?
01:35 VN: So, the 521 is originally named Five to One, to help people convert their 5 PM to 1 AM side hustle to their full-time hustle.
01:44 DM: Oh.
01:46 AS: That’s actually perfect, ’cause when Daniel asked me, I started doing like the Dolly Parton like working Five to One, and that’s exactly what it is.
01:55 VN: You knew exactly what it is.
01:55 AS: So if you need that marketing video, you can have that idea.
01:58 VN: Buddy, thank you so much, I will definitely credit you for that. As anything later you tend to realize that people want to convert side hustles to full-time hustles. We don’t have the money for it, so I was like, yep, I’m just gonna stick to corporate. That’s kind of where all the money comes in. So, happy days, the biggest hypocrite is me.
02:15 DM: Very nice.
02:16 AS: But you are helping people make their dreams come true, that’s why we are here, I don’t know how to do business, that’s amazing.
02:22 VN: It’s always fun working with the smaller companies, we worked with a couple of first-time founders as well. And it’s really great seeing their ideas being converted to something on a story board, to something on a design pattern, to something as an app and eventually thousands of users using it. So it’s always encouraging for ourselves to see people use our products, and more so believe in the founders who we once believed in too.
02:50 DM: That’s awesome. What would you say is your favorite part of the process of working with a new client?
02:58 VN: I think the favorite part always comes into the first time we have them use the product that we’ve built, whether that might be in the past two weeks or three weeks. And when they finally see, okay, all these things that we were talking about finally executed. Everyone stays in the idea and I want to do something phase for such a long time, that once that idea that, the thing is actually executed in their hands, they’re like, Oh wow, this is real, right? This is happening and that’s when they get super excited. You can see them shine and get really pumped up whether… Even it’s an SME or if it’s like a corporate, the second we see that happening and they see that this is in their hands, and they actually get to feel and touch their dream. It’s always a great feeling and that’s when you see that they get really pumped in, their marketing stars getting kicked off, they’re like, Oh yeah, we finally have a cool product, it’s not just us talking about a bunch of ideas over a couple of drinks. So that’s always been the exciting path.
03:58 DM: Nice.
03:58 AS: Yeah, definitely, that it’s great to be a part of people’s growth process and having those [04:04] ____ awesome.
04:04 VN: For sure.
04:05 DM: Especially those who dream, you know. Like this is a dream that I have, I’ll love to build this app or this piece of software and then being able to see that in your hands, it’s going to be a good feeling. Yeah.
04:14 VN: Yeah, exactly.
04:16 AS: With the name of the company, it’s built in, that you’re helping people with those side hustles, and that’s the founding of the company but you’ve now got clients like PwC and Auto Trader and you’re working with the UN. So what’s that growth process like for you that led to being able to net those much bigger clients.
04:36 VN: I wanna say luck and I guess right time at the right place. I got on to this whole LinkedIn game about two and a half years ago when there’s not a lot of people producing content. And honestly I started rambling crap online and some people actually liked the shit I was saying and coincidentally some of the people who liked what I was saying was like a senior HR manager at PwC. And then he reached out to me saying, Hey we’re looking to have someone help us out with XYZ, do you and your team wanna come in and help us? And I was a small company at that time, I was like hell yeah, I’ll do for free if you want me to. But luckily, I didn’t do it for free, which is a good decision.
05:21 VN: I basically met them that way and we did that project which was great. Auto Trader won honestly, I think it’s kind of what you look at as a long-term sales cycle, right? I caught up with their CTO, who was a great friend Jeremy Gupta, he’s doing his own thing right now. And it was honestly, I just caught up with him ’cause I wanted to meet people who were doing different things in their career. And when I mean different… It’s a very broad word? It was… How did you start off doing bio-med science, and now you’re a CTO of a company, right? That’s literally was my LinkedIn query search. I wanted to find people with interesting career paths, people… It was more so an attestment to me, to give me confidence and saying that, “Look, I started with a mechatronics background, and now I’m in software, don’t worry, it’s going to be fine,” right?
06:11 VN: And I messaged heaps of these people, I don’t know how many. And Jeremy from Auto Trader was one of them. And he replied back, we caught up, honestly it was like six months in, before we even worked together. But that’s where I… I talked to [06:26] ____, the person who introduced us about this a lot is, I call it the red button principle is basically be so good at one thing, that when someone’s built something for you and they have a red button regardless of how much you charge and where in the world you are they trust you so much to be that one specialist that they will call you and have you press that red button, right? Because it’s just as important. And with us it was the same thing, where we were really good in a couple of things and Jeremy was respectful of that, so he called us in, he’s like, “Look we’re building this massive project Hav and we’re derivative of Cox automotive in America were a massive company. Can you help us?” And I was like, “this is great” ’cause this is gonna be one of our first few products that is actually gonna be televised in Australian TV. Like people are actually gonna watch ads for it, there’s gonna be thousands of sign-ups, and that’s how it happened, It was a long, I wanna call ‘sales cycle’, but also at the same time, a genuine relationship that was built over non-agenda-driven coffees, I guess.
07:31 AS: Yeah, No, I think those are two incredible points that I really wanted to emphasize while you were talking about it because I was just at Digital Summit at Los Angeles last month and saw both Randi Zuckerberg and Rand Fishkin.
07:44 VN: Oh yeah.
07:45 AS: Neither one of them would recommend someone start a blog right now, because it’s just such an oversaturated market. So for you to find a channel where you can more authentically connect with people, it just shows and proves that is effective in today’s marketing landscape that if you’re finding a way to connect with people and deliver something that’s valuable to them, that that’s really… It’s gonna take you places, and you’re a living example of that, that’s great, but the other part is, I mean everyone at our company, here, always laughs at me because I’ve got eight weddings a year to go to all over the country and I’m always traveling and it’s just Like, “how do you have so many friends?” But that’s what happens when you just are kind to people and you make those genuine connections and if you keep talking base that, sure maybe something will pay off in the long run that you get to do for work, but it’s those friendships that are gonna grow. I mean the reason we’re talking today is your… One of your childhood friends who’s…
08:41 AS: One of our favorite guests that we’ve had emailed me like, “Hey you have to talk to my buddy.”
08:46 AS: That’s what he said and he wasn’t lying, but it was just that simple, being like, “hey man… ” we had a good time talking to him. We had a good time promoting it afterwards together. An hour later he was just like, “Hey let’s talk to this guy.” And I looked into you, and I was just like, “Oh yeah, we definitely have to tell that story.”
09:04 VN: [09:04] ____. Sorry, you were saying something.
09:07 DM: No, no, no, all I was gonna say is I think more people need to really look at what they love to do, and shine at doing that because…
09:16 AS: Yeah.
09:16 DM: That’s how you meet cool people, that you’re gonna get along with. I think there’s a lot of people that just do things ’cause they think that that’s what they’re supposed to do and they end up with a group of friends they don’t really care for and all that stuff.
09:27 VN: Yeah.
09:28 DM: Not to get too philosophical today.
09:31 VN: I wanted to add to that thing that you guys were talking about right before is be kind to people for the sake of it. I have shared this story multiple times, on linkedin, YouTube, etcetera, one of my biggest projects… One of the biggest ones we’ve done actually came through, Honestly, just like you said, being nice to someone. I was at a friend’s birthday at a club, and I was leaving my coat and there’s a long line at the coat hanging place, and I was talking to this guy in front of me, he was talking to me about his job and what He does, etcetera, and it was so long ago, it was almost two years ago before I actually worked with that particular client. Turns out that this dude I was talking to at the coat hanging place was best friends with who was gonna be one of my biggest clients. And The nicest thing you wanna hear from a client who is a large project is for his best friend to say, “Oh, V’s actually a really nice guy. Out of a pure non-agenda basis. He was generally cool and we spoke and we talked about work and helping each other out.” and it was one of the things where you try and test a few things right? When you’re in marketing, you throw a few things methodically on a wall and you see what sticks and then you double down on that process, like the whole Sean Ellis growth hacking process, right?
10:53 VN: And I generally wasn’t sure. Look, I’m one of those dudes who… Heavily bullied in school, and I was super shy and you sort of need to step out of that shell and just talk to people sometimes without an agenda, sometimes with an agenda. And this was one of the cases where I always talk to the younger founders that I reach out to who reach out to me and I’m like, “look it’s two minutes, you’re standing there, you’re not getting anything out of it. Just say a hi. You don’t know what might happen.” right? And this is like a living example where I, without again going too philosophical, is about you never know where opportunity stands and you never know where this person might work, it’s people buy from people. You can tell me as much as you want that we’re in the internet age, and it’s all about online marketing and funnel optimization blah, blah, blah. But people buy from people. It’s as simple as that, it’s how it’s been, it’s how will always be.
11:44 AS: Yeah, I live in LA. The version of that we hear all the time is, you never know who’s gonna be your boss on the next project.
11:51 AS: So all the… [11:52] ____ podcast things I listen to, yeah, be nice to the PAs they might be directing a movie you’re in next time.
12:00 AS: That’s the much more superficial version of that, but that applies to every industry is just like… The power of kindness, when you go in… When I came to my interview at benchmark the first person I interacted with was just at a desk setting up a computer, turns out that it was the CEO of the company, and I was truthfully kind to him. Not that I would have been anything else I’d like to think, but you really never know who it is you talk to or what you said, What’s serendipity it might lead to. So that’s a really important lesson. I’m glad we got a chance to hit on that. What else have you learned in this process in terms of growing and as you’re working with bigger clients, what kind of challenges came with scaling as you had to learn to do that with a bigger client versus some of the Startups or people still looking for their funding and those sorts of things?
12:52 VN: Sure, I think the biggest challenge I’ve faced in general I think everyone faces in business is, “Am I doing this right? There’s a constant battle between am I doing right, can I grow faster, what am I doing wrong? And it’s right to have that certain level of pedanticness but at the same time it almost consumes you at sometimes. So it’s just a learning lesson to realize that look, just people say this a million times and I’ve said it and I’m the biggest hypocrite saying that is, stop comparing someone’s tomorrow with your today, is someone that you’re seeing that you’re following blah, blah, blah they have put in hours and hours and hours of work into this so stop getting concerned that you’re not there yet, right?
13:36 DM: Yeah, correct.
13:36 VN: And the second thing is just learning that it’s somethings are just unfair, somethings are just fair. And when we started working with the corporates I think or the larger companies I think when you put the word corporate, it becomes very… When we started working with larger companies who were… Who were testing innovation I think the… I wouldn’t call it challenging is actually great working with them because they understood that working with a smaller company meant we get to be more nimble, we get to be more approachable, we get to try new ideas without having red tape attached to it and you know this is what I find interesting. Whenever I have a project within my own company and I wanna offer it to someone else, I tend to not go for bigger companies, I actually got the smaller ones ’cause to my opposition what I think is smaller guys, the small guys and girls they wanna prove a point which means they’re gonna do 10 times the job to get that reputation up and going versus someone who’s got a bit of reputation. Not like who has a reputation wouldn’t do a good job. They obviously will that’s why they have that, but it’s always a chance of passing the baton on to someone who’s trying to make it.
14:43 VN: So, I think that really helped us also shape ourselves is when we were working with the larger companies, the biggest challenge obviously is just understanding how they operate. They work so differently each company to its completely own self, they work very differently but in the end the promise that you have to sell to anyone or what you need to deliver is look, if I can deliver you a good nights rest, that’s all you need to worry about and most of these people who are working in executive positions that’s all they care about. They generally want to do good for their business and they wanna do good for their family and if you can offer both of that and do it in a way where you’re like, “Look you need to trust the process, you need to trust us, we do things a little differently mainly because we’re working in emerging technology, we’re working in Blockchain, you need to realize that this is not just another random web application that will just be built at it’s predictable, right?
15:38 AS: Correct.
15:38 VN: These are things that are new and you need to trust us and the last part of that trust comes from them seeing us on LinkedIn or YouTube or Instagram, whatever other million ways I’m trying to get ourselves pushed out there. They’re like, cool there’s familiarity and I understand you because you’ve obviously spoken to X amount of people, I don’t understand this arena but I’m going to trust you and that trust is it takes sometime, I think Jeremy actually said this really well, he’s like look, I think any relationship when it’s a client service-based situation is much like a marriage, you’re going to have a bit of tips and fight but both of you really wanna work together, you wanna make something great happen and you need to realize that any disagreement or any qualms is honestly strengthening the relationship further which was exactly the case with us and Auto Trader was it was not just cool, smooth story from start to end, it was like any relationship, you have some tough times but it’s how do you react to that tough time that decides how this goes on and I think that was a great example of us. We worked with them for almost one year and we loved working with them, they loved working with us and it was purely for the fact that okay, we have a tough situation, let’s not just run around and pull our hair which I don’t have much of, but how do we go ahead and make something happen out of this? And that really, really helped us all.
17:11 DM: Yeah, trust is I think the most important thing of any relationship and once you gain that trust, the sky is the limit. A question for you in regards to… ’cause you not only do you work with big brands but you work on big ideas, big projects.
17:31 VN: Yeah.
17:32 DM: What are some of the… I guess, what’s some of the secret sauce there on tackling a big challenge especially when it’s things with artificial intelligence, Blockchain, what are some of the things that you guys go through or I guess… What’s the word that I’m looking for? Not strategies but I guess, how do you guys tackle those big ideas?
17:55 VN: Now, you’ve raised a very good point. It’s about how do you stay on top and I think the easiest way to answer it is by being a little loose in the head. I came back home at 1:00 o’clock in the morning and I wanted to do machine learning algorithms it’s… But honestly I wish I had an answer that didn’t sound for lack of better words cocky or whatever it’s generally that. I’m a nerd, I like building cool stuff, you guys understand this as well right? You are doing excellent things in your business because you are trying to push the forefront of delivery and making cool things happen, it’s that obsession that you have and I think it starts from the top. My team have always forced me to take a vacation ’cause they consider that okay look, we get that you work hard but if you get sick, then there’s no money coming in, so do it and chill. But I think it’s just, it dives back to that story. I actually have a tattoo on my arm, it’s a bull and I keep telling people that I got this tattoo ’cause it’s Taurus blah, blah, blah but the reason I actually got it was because I got that at the time where I was like, “Cool. I’m gonna put this at the time stamp and every time I look at it, I will want to be like “Cool, I need to run, I need to go fast because I don’t wanna be where I was when I got that tattoo.” It’s as simple as that and it doesn’t work that much when it’s winter ’cause I’m wearing long sleeves clothes but.
19:21 VN: But the principle is basically that the way we stay and solve big ideas and solve big problems because you face 10 times the challenges when you’re sitting at the edge of the cube, is understanding that it’s a very frustrating role and embracing that and realizing that… It’s one of those things, right? And I’m pretty sure you guys have both faced this. You’ve both have faced times in your life where you’re like, “Oh shit, this is hard. I can’t handle this break up. I don’t know how I’m gonna do this.” or someone’s unfortunately not feeling well or, “I’ve broken my leg and I can’t be a football player anymore.” But then you moved past that and you’re here. You two are doing really well right now and you’re achieving something you wanna achieve. And it’s just that mindset, you’re like, “Okay, back then I thought that was the end of the world but here I am.” Right? So…
20:09 DM: What’s that saying? In the end it will all be alright. If it’s not alright, it’s ’cause it’s not the end.
20:14 VN: Exactly right. And it’s one of those things where if you sort of stumble upon these things that you’re like, “Oh yeah, it’s a cliche because it’s true.” Right? So it’s one of those things where I’m building stuff and I’m like, “Okay this is very hard. It’s tough for me, I can’t figure it out, blah, blah, blah.” And then you’re like, “You know what? You said that the other day, you’ll figure it out. Even if you don’t, you will find the right people to help you figure it out.” I think one thing that we all appreciate within our team is we understand that we’re not the smartest but we strive to be the dumbest in that we want to surround ourselves with the smartest people. That’s when you’re doing a good job. When you’re the smartest it’s always value down, but when you’re the dumbest in the room it’s always value up, right?
20:56 AS: Definitely. Yeah, I love that. I’ve told the story on the podcast before, but I remember at Coachella a few years ago, it’s when they did the Tupac hologram on stage and I’m standing in the middle of this field with 70,000 other people and I’m thinking about how I’m gonna turn that into a story to write for our weekly newsletter the next day.
21:16 VN: Exactly.
21:17 AS: And making it about an email marketing lesson. And it just happened with a guest blog I did. They were like… It was about email and event marketing and they had wine and cheese in the graphic, but they hadn’t written anything about wine and cheese in the post. So they’re like 10 points if you can somehow work wine and cheese into this [laughter] or if you’re writing about is email and event marketing. I was just like, “Oh I can turn anything into email marketing, that’s just how my noggin works now.
21:42 VN: That’s it. That’s it.
21:44 AS: Talking about having that tattoo to remind you of that time that you needed the lesson. Daniel was just working with our offices in India, and did come back sporting some beautiful art on his forearm for a very similar reason.
21:58 DM: Very similar actually, I got Lord Shiva on my forearm.
22:02 VN: Oh yeah? Nice, nice, that’s awesome, that’s awesome. It’s just one of the things, right? Once you’re in it, you’re switched on. Like you always see like, cool opportunity, everywhere opportunity. I talk to my friends and client services is tough. It’s very hard, ’cause what’s your value prop? Everyone’s doing the same thing, how do you stand out? And that’s okay. You’re right, it is very difficult. But then there’s two ways to look at it. You can look at a 15-year-old killing it in life and be like, “Shit, it’s late.” or you can look at 15-year-old and who’s killing it and you’re like, “Hell, yeah, I wanna be like them and I’m pumped by it.” So you can… I look at the skyline at Sydney every day and I see all these big companies I’m like, “One day, one day, one day I’m gonna knock on their office. One day I’m gonna knock on their office.” And that’s just… It’s some days you’re like, “This is… I can’t.” I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve spoken to a lot of people, I was like, “I have a magic number and I’ve kept a book.” Every single time I wanted to quit in the first year, and I think it was 45. Like 45 times where I was like, “You know what? Tell the other team I’m done. I’m out of this. I’ll pay you guys off. I’m just frustrated, right? I’m out of here.” But every single time you look at that book, it’s one of the things like, “Okay, remember the time you said you’re done but now you’re back here?
23:17 AS: Yeah.
23:18 VN: And you just keep pushing.
23:20 DM: That’s really cool, that is really cool. There’s this book called Non-Violent Communication. I highly recommend it to everybody.
23:26 VN: Oh yeah. Please.
23:28 DM: And in that book he talks exactly about kind of what you’re saying. Like don’t be jealous of anyone else, be happy for them and have that inspire you to keep going for yourself. And I think I really like that idea of keeping a tally of all the times that you wanted to quit to look back at them like, “Remember that day. Remember how foolish that would have been.” That’s pretty cool.
23:51 VN: Yeah, exactly.
23:55 DM: You work with artificial intelligence and Blockchain. I think a lot of people… I mean, it’s somewhat new, I guess, for the mainstream.
24:04 AS: It’s a buzzword.
24:05 DM: Yeah. It’s a buzzword, that’s what it is.
24:06 VN: It is, it is, it is, huge buzzwords.
24:08 DM: What I wanna ask you is, what is artificial intelligence for you?
24:13 AS: Awesome, that is a beautiful question. Artificial intelligence to me, is something a bunch of IT geeks came up with to over-charge clients.
24:21 DM: I love that answer.
24:23 VN: It is basically that. I read this great article, I’ll actually share with you guys in an email. And I think I loved what she said. She was I think a data scientist, a massive data scientist at Google and she used the word anthropomorphizing. So I actually had it in front of me ’cause I can’t… What it basically means ’cause I Googled is making something sound Godly when it’s actually not. So AI to me is simple. It’s mimicking human beings, it’s mimicking decision patterns that human beings would take. Which is what? When I look at something, I go through a recognition pattern. I’m like, “Okay, where did I see this before? And what was it when I first saw it? When I first saw it I didn’t know what it was. Then I was told what it was and now I know what it is, right?” And it’s as simple as that. It’s when you show an algorithm or whatever you call it, a bunch of functions, here is the image, tell me what it is. First it doesn’t know what it is, then it goes back, and this is the whole word people use training models, right? Then it goes ahead and understands what it kind of is. And then the next time you show it it’s like, “Oh yeah, I saw this. You told me what it was. So this is what it actually is.” And it’s just that going back, failing, repeating and then realizing this is actually what it is the next time you actually show it.
25:46 VN: That’s all AI and machine learning is. It’s telling a function that what it predicted was wrong, so please go back and understand the variables that you used to make this prediction and change the variables around until you get it right. It’s like almost teaching a function to punish itself until it actually gets it right.
26:06 AS: Interesting lesson.
26:07 VN: That’s basically what it is. It’s… It is a little hard. Don’t get me wrong. I find it hard as well. It’s a very deep topic, but removing the complexity at us, when you actually talk to clients, it’s like, “Oh, what is this MLAI, like robots taking over the world?” In all fairness, it’s as simple as that is you show them something, they don’t know what it is, then show it again, and because they remember it from memory, they’re like, “Oh yeah, this is what it was. Is that it?” And you’re like, “Yeah, you’re right. You got it correct.” And sometimes you get it wrong and you tell it and it punishes itself until it gets it right.
26:40 AS: That’s cool. Do you ever face an issue when you’re talking with clients, I mean, sometimes when you’re with a young, hungry startup, I’m sure they’re more familiar with it, but sometimes you face kind of that old guard that is more scared or doesn’t understand it. Is there a pushback in that when you kind of face those people or do you find them becoming more learning to adapt and accept what’s coming and especially when you’re able to break it down and explain it as clearly as you can?
27:07 VN: Yeah. It’s always… I think people are inclined to familiarity. People love comfort zones. Like it or not, I love comfort zones, but only those… When you’re growing like, “Yeah, you need to be comfortable being uncomfortable.” That’s where you start. We need to get into that mindset, but obviously bigger people don’t care about that. I think in the end, if you stop selling it in a way that you understand it and you start selling it in a way that they understand it, that’s all that matters. There’s always a resistance in any adaptation of a new tool, so if you start telling them, “Look, if you use this product, genuinely it will make your life easier. This is not about me. Let’s talk about you. What are the problems you’re facing right now? What are the issues that is costing you money? How can you do more by doing less?” That’s the dream, right? How can you do more by doing less? And this is a solution. Sometimes it’s not the right solution, so let’s not do it. Let’s not just work together for the sake of working together, but sometimes let us actually work together for doing more with less. And it’s not always a perfect hit, but majority of the time, people actually understand that. If you walk them through the issues that they’re facing. Do you guys watch Friends, the TV show?
28:26 DM: Yeah.
28:28 VN: Oh, thank God. We’re best friends now. I love that show and I grew up on that. It’s basically my depression fix. And you remember that episode where Joey’s at the gala and he buys a yacht?
28:40 AS: Yes, with Kevin.
28:42 VN: Yeah, and then Rachel’s kinda like send it off him and she’s selling it to the second highest bidder, it’s a great topic on sales and marketing. Rachel never once sold the concept to that dude about how great the actual yacht is. All she did was, she’s like, “Envision a picture where you and your wife are traveling on the yacht and then there’s the wind hitting the hair,” the little hair that he had, and she sold the dream to him. She sold what it was solving for him. She never showed features. She sold solutions, right? And I think a lot of people get drawn in the fact that, “Oh cool, look at these 50 features we have.” No, the client does not care about 50 features, they care about feature number four. Just sell feature number four, and that’s where what you guys do, which is email prospecting and understanding what clients actually care about and diving really deep on that one thing really makes a difference, which is why, you know, my newfound respect for marketing and marketers over the past two years has honestly just exploded and I’m learning a lot about it and I’m trying to learn more and more because what you guys do is have the super power of understanding psychology as skill. And that is just incredible. Some of the things that I learn when I talk to marketers and how they understand people, it’s incredible.
30:08 DM: For me it’s been… So I studied Computer Science in college and then halfway through I switched to a Art major.
30:18 VN: Oh, awesome.
30:19 DM: It almost killed me.
30:21 DM: Now the job that I have, I’m no coder but I understand how to speak to coders, and the artistic side helps me with marketing. So for me, I think it was the best combo that I coulda had because I am able to see the perspective and I’m curious. I’m very, very hungry for like, “What happens if we change this? What’s the power of this one word?” And yeah, I just love it. But I think Seth Godin said, going back to what you were saying, a guy going to a hardware store for a drill bit doesn’t want a drill. He wants a hole in the wall and he doesn’t want a hole in the wall, he wants a shelf. He doesn’t want a shelf, he just wants his damn books to be organized. That’s all he really wants. So understanding that in marketing and being able to tell a story that will relate to that person, that’s the whole power of it all.
31:18 VN: Perfectly said. It’s selling that dream, right? This is marketing, correct, the new one, the orange colored book?
31:26 DM: That one, yeah. Yeah, that one.
31:28 AS: I read that through all. [31:34] ____ dream big, has hardware ever stopped a project for you, meaning hardware just wasn’t there for you to be able to do something? It looks like the battery life or speed or…
31:46 VN: Sure, sure. There’s always limitations. You always need to work with the bounds of what you have, right? If we didn’t have that, that would be great. We worked with the United Nations in Devry to solve a big problem for our schools in Tunisia, and it was about delivery of food to people in an efficient way using blockchain for tracking products, etcetera, etcetera. And a large issue that we had over there was the drivers or the people who would move product from one place to the other would not actually have the technology or the phones. We have modern 3G or 4G, but they don’t have that over there. So yeah, it was an absolute limitation. We’re like, “Okay, how do we…
32:28 VN: I have engineering teams and engineers over here with full-scale internet and fast computers. We’re billing for the modern age, but how do we now scale back and build for people who might still be in the early 2000s or late ’90s. And that’s where you start really stressed, you start stretching your engineering team and your mindset. This is when you start being like “Okay how do we be true problem solvers? How do we solve for the client?” And we’ve faced that. We definitely faced that and solutions that we came up with was like, “Okay, we will start doing… An easy way of put-through is [33:04] ____ We’ll go ahead and basically batch up requests that a user has made when they’re offline, and the second they get online or get a hint of data, we’ll just start dispatching these pockets of data to our servers, so they catch on to it. But in today’s day and age, you’re like, “Oh, you’re pretty much always online. And if you’re not online, then you can’t even do anything.”
33:28 VN: So I was coming up with these cool little things and even so, that’s where it gets even more fun. If you’re just doing normal products every day, it tends to be, “It’s alright, it’s great. We made money. Hurrah.” But how do we go home and be like, “Oh, you know what we did today? We built something that actually works completely offline and the user thinks it’s offline, but the second they get online, everything just goes back in.” And it sounds so easy, and maybe 100 people have done it before, but the fact that you get to do it again, but yourself, gets you even more excited. So, there’s always limitations in hardware, even when we’re doing with machine learning algorithms and we’re trying to train models. We’re trying to do stuff on… Just FYI, when people say they’re training models, it’s just syntax where we got it wrong, and we’re trying to do it again. [chuckle] That’s basically all it stands for.
34:20 AS: The positive spin.
34:22 VN: Yeah, yeah the positive spin. It’s like, when the engineer comes to you and like, “Hey boss, I’m re-training the model right now. It’s not… It’s basically… Dude, I screwed up. I’m just gonna do it again and again and again until I figure it out.” And when you humanize it, it makes it sound cooler. I think Devs are really cool, including myself, are really good at creating black boxes and mystiques around people. I love marketing for the same reason as well. When I didn’t know much about it, I’d always go to the marketing team, I’m like, “Yeah, so how’s the QPC and the FPAs and the ABCs and the ZYTs going?” ‘Cause you guys talk a lot in acronyms, right? Yeah, there’s limitations, but you just need to work around it and if you can’t work around it, you always need to be very upfront with the client or the customer to let them know that, “Look, this is not there, we’re not Google, we don’t have Google level resources, but we work with what we have, and we build for the future.”
35:26 AS: Yeah, just talking about working within your limitations and how to adapt to that, I wanna circle back to something you were talking about before, ’cause I think it’s a really important lesson for our listeners in terms of… You said you like working with the younger company. A lot of times they’re hungrier, they’re more passionate. I’m like, “Just ’cause someone’s young or doesn’t have… Hasn’t worked with those bigger clients.” That talent is out there. We’ve hired freelancers, through Fiverr or Upwork or those sites. And we talked to one guy who were talking about maybe developing a site for Benchmark, who I ended up recommending to another client that I do consulting with. And he’s now gonna be the CTO of their company because…
36:08 VN: Awesome.
36:08 AS: [36:08] ____ We were living up in Alaska and the first conversation that I had with him, I was like, “I don’t even know if this guy knows how good and talented he is.”
36:17 VN: Awesome.
36:18 AS: But I see that and other people see it too. And I think that’s so important, in like you’ve kind of approached in two different ways, in this conversation so far, is just, it’s okay to have the limitations of where you’re at, whether you’re a start-up, whether it’s resources, or the time or the technology. But it’s adapting and overcoming and finding the tools out there. We have a global marketplace now, where you can find talent and work remotely and do those things that… I just want to hammer that home because I’ve been thinking you did a really good job of sharing that with people that, just ’cause someone’s young, they’re passionate. The passion is there. That’s oftentimes more exciting ’cause you don’t get those jaded people that… They’ve seen it all and don’t think anything will work, that it’s a great lesson for people trying to grow those businesses, pursue their passions, is, find the young hungry talent out there. Just ’cause it’s expensive, doesn’t always mean it’s the best and it [37:10] ____ learn to adapt to those limitations.
37:13 VN: Absolutely. I think… Who said this really well? I think Jack Ma said it really well. It’s one of the many things he’s… He’s spoken about it in his conference was, “When you’re young, when you’re in your 20s, work for yourself. Sorry. When you’re in your 20s, work for a start-up or a big place where you understand process, etc. When you’re in your 30s, maybe start working for yourself and try figuring things out. When you’re in your 40s, hire the right people. And then, when you’re in your 50s, start working for young people because they have the energy, and they have the drive to actually… ” And it’s so true. I’m growing old as well, and I realized that soon enough, I start saying, I’m with friends, I’m like, “Oh, he’s 24, he’s really young.” I was like, “Oh, wait. He’s young. I’m old. Never mind.” [laughter]
38:04 VN: Some people think 24 is old so whoops, I’ve crossed that part. But it’s one of those things where, I think you need to embrace your limitations and that’s the best part, is when you embrace your limitation and you realize, “I’m not gonna do everything.” is when you become really good at resourcing. One of my friends said this really well, “A CEO is nothing but a great resourcer. You give them a problem to find someone better than them and you to get it done.” And that’s what you have to be. A great resourcer is, how do we have budget, how do we find the right people and how the hell do we make this happen.
38:38 AS: Yeah, good point. Absolutely. Well, Vaibhav, I know it’s the middle of the night for you, so we don’t wanna keep you too much longer. Before we give you a chance to say the plugs and everything. I do wanna recommend Schitt’s Creek and Freaks and Geeks, both on Netflix. Those are my pick-me-up shows lately.
38:54 VN: Oh, yeah? Okay.
38:55 DM: They’re so good.
38:56 AS: They’re both [38:57] ____ and have just an incredible sweetness to them, too. They’re just [39:00] ____ so uplifting and nice that they balance those both so well. That [39:05] ____ friends, too. But those are my two more recent ones. It’s like doing yoga for me, it just sets [39:10] ____ makes me okay.
39:13 DM: I wish they had more seasons of Freaks and Geeks. I cannot believe that there are only…
39:17 AS: There’s five of Schitt’s Creek, though. There’s four on Netflix, a new one will be there soon. I actually just got to see them do a live panel in Austin and it was so fun to see a whole sold-out crowd get excited about Schitt’s Creek but they’re both great. Highly recommend those two.
39:31 VN: Awesome. I am gonna watch them. Perfectly, perfectly well said. Thank you, sir. I don’t think the…
39:38 VN: Sorry, go ahead… No, I was gonna say Australian Netflix is kind of sad. It doesn’t have a lot of the cool shows that American one has but we’re in live podcast. I’m not gonna use words that might put me in trouble.
39:53 AS: Did you have any last questions before we go?
39:55 VN: No, this has been a great conversation. Thank you very much…
39:58 AS: Yeah. We appreciate you staying up late and talking to us. Before we say goodbye, let everyone know where they can find out more about 521.
40:06 VN: Absolutely, thank you. Firstly, thank you guys so much. I really, really appreciate the time that you’ve taken to talk to me. And to [40:12] ____ as well. He’s an amazing character. Finding me, I think the best place… Nowadays I’m really active on LinkedIn. It’s my first name and last name, which is… God bless you if you can figure it out, Vaibhav Namburi. It’s a shiny bald head, brown dude guy. You’ll most likely see me at the top search, which is great. And the other places, 521.com.au. Which is, what I’ve learned, is an SEO nightmare. F-I-V-E, the word, the number two, and the word O-N-E.com.au. If you’re looking to develop a product, if you’re looking to talk about machine learning or you just want to chat, like talking to these great guys. I love hearing other people’s stories. Get in touch.
40:56 AS: Awesome, thanks again, Vaibhav. Thanks everyone for listening and we’ll catch you guys next time. Take care.
41:02 DM: See you later.
41:02 VN: Thank you. See ya.
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