Favorite things to do in Austin: Disc Golf
- Noah Kagan is the Chief Sumo at AppSumo, which helps business professionals kick more ass. He specializes in making things, eating burritos and disc golf. Previously, he founded Gambit, a payment engine for virtual games. Before that, he helped launch Mint.com.
- Earlier in is career, Noah was one of Facebook’s first hires. His Twitter handle is @noahkagan.
- HOW DID YOU COME TO LIVE IN AUSTIN?
- The original time I've ever come here was I was interning in Dallas with Microsoft, and my friend was like, "Yeah, go to Austin, check it out" and I said, "What is Austin, I've never heard of this city." And he's like "Yeah I've got some girls down there. You should just go hang out with them."
- And then the girls too me to Sixth Street, and I was like -- it was my junior year of college and I said this is the greatest place ever fucking made. I was like they have made heaven for me and it's Austin Texas.
- HOW DID YOU LAND AT FACEBOOK AND WHAT WAS IT LIKE?
- While I was at Intel I was about to kill myself and what that meant was it was just the most boring thing I could have ever done. And about two months before I was about to quit, I was checking out Facebook jobs, and I saw that they had Product Manager so I submitted, got the job, there was no connections or friends I knew.
- My life was consumed by it. It was literally like Facebook, my life, my parents, maybe, and then my girlfriend, everything revolved around it 24/7 every day, all day.
- It was amazing to work on a product you just love, and then other people love. And you know, you go to a coffee shop and see people using it actively? So that experience was really great.
- And I'd say another big take away for me at Facebook was -- I'm smart. I'm not gifted. I'm not insanely smart but I'm above average. That was the first time I've consistently felt dumb. Like I consistently felt challenged to be a better and smarter person and perform better.
- And when you're surrounded by that with everyone, it just pushes you to become much, much stronger. And I've never, even to this day, really haven't had that concentration of high-caliber people like that. So that was nice to be around.
- TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE OF MINT.COM...
- So at mint.com I got to meet Aaron Patzer, the founder, through Dave McClure, and Aaron is a very confident person, which I think rubs people the wrong way and I met him and I was like, I don't care, I'm not really interested in whatever he's doing.
- And then Dave said, "Come check out this product" and so he came and showed me a demo, and Aaron is a really impressive guy once you get to know him and understand him better and so spent 6 or 9 months basically in a cave, like Al-Qaeda, working by himself making mint.
- He showed me the demo of it and I was jaw-dropped. And so I originally didn't get hired. Aaron was like "We're hiring for marketing and you have no marketing experience. You're kind of, you're not traditional in a lot of ways." And so I spent a week or two basically working for him for free. I came back with plans, and I kept following up and I was really disciplined around all of it. And I ended up earning the job. Not just giving it to me.
- I didn't stick around at either one of those companies. At Facebook, I got let go, which was about a year of depression, serous depression. There's different types of people for different stages of your business. There's basically three stages: you just need bodies, you need kind of smart bodies, and you need experienced bodies. And so at Facebook, when we were at 30 people, they just needed people to get shit done and I was very good at that.
- But as they needed people to go from 10 million to 100 million people, I've never gone through that, I've never product managed larger projects, which is something I'm very good at, but I don't think I was ready to learn it at that time. I've matured a lot and now I'm thinking more strategically than versus just tactically, where I was in the past.
- And I think at Facebook they needed those kind of people. My ultimate goal was for my own business. That's what I've always wanted to do, that's what my father did. That's what I've always just aspired to -- there was never any other choice.
- WHAT DO YOU SEE AS YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL STRENGTHS?
- I think there's different kinds of people in the world, and what I've actually found to be my strength is making things happen and then kind of being more of a composer where I get things orchestrated. So I bring on the right people, I find out what things need to happen and I make sure they happen.
- The second thing I've found out lately that I've been pretty good at is looking at anomalies in data. Looking for things in our business that are working really well and then trying to do a lot more of those and kind of killing things that haven't been doing very well.
- WHY DID YOU START APPSUMO?
- So why I started out with AppSumo was three things. I started AppSumo because I wanted to work with people I loved, I wanted to work with customers that appreciated us and we loved them too, and I wanted to work with partners or other people that we have good relationships with.
- What we fundamentally do is that if you are running a business or if you want to run a business, or you're in a job and you want to improve your skills, we provide tools and an education to help you do a better job.
- So AppSumo started specifically as a... web bundles for web apps. So it was taking the MacHeist model, which was a bundle of Mac apps but doing it for web applications so MailChimp, Freshbooks, companies like DropBox, Flickr, LinkedIn, anything that's a web application and bundling it and trying to sell it.
- A lot of people said, "Oh we're selling the pick axes to the people looking for gold and trying to build their businesses." But what was the most surprising thing was, they didn't want just pick axes, they wanted to know how to effectively use their pick axe.
- ANY ADVICE FOR NEW ENTREPRENEURS?
- Helping people find their professional meaning in their life gave me the most satisfaction in mine. And so that's what we, you know, we've been doing and we continue to do. Like, you learn the most stuff through doing. So stop watching this video right now. Put it down and spend 30 minutes today doing something towards a business, if that's what you really want.
- Secondly, especially if you're young, go take advantage of other people. And take advantage of the fact that you are young and you have access to them. Because as you get older and greedy, they won't want to meet with you.
- And then third is if you get the chance to work around really smart people even for free, do it. And impress the hell out of them because the relationship, the experience and the potential jobs you get from that are just invaluable.