Thomas Mulliez Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Business Podcast
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Introducing Thomas Mulliez
Thomas Mulliez is our guest today, on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots free podcast interview.
He is a a father, husband, entrepreneur, and the visionary behind iTREKKERS.
He founded the company in 2014 after realizing that bringing together vetted professional captains and guides on one platform would help guarantee everyone a better experience in the outdoors.
But what does that mean exactly?
Well as he says “Driven by my passion for hiking and fishing and the unreliable and diverse experiences that I have had; iTrekkers has been born. iTrekkers concept is simple:
We connect customers to amazing outdoor experience that will help make them advocates.
In order to achieve this, we have developed – www.itrekkers.com, where customers will be able to search a city location (such as Tampa), pick the type of fishing Trek they want to do (inshore, nearshore or offshore) and the package / price combination they want, and voila! we provide you with a guide to book.
How The Dots Joined Up For Thomas
Our booking process is simple, safe and secure.
And, best of all, we guarantee our trips 100% customer satisfaction or your money back. “
The end goal is straight forward: They want all their customers to have the best chance of experiencing the great outdoors in the most pleasant and exciting way possible.
Now this is an interesting concept for so many reasons, not least the mental aspect of building a business around something that is already out there?
Isn’t someone else doing it already?
How can I charge for something people can do for free anyway?
Well our guest has ploughed through all the obstacles and now is seeing his business go from strength to strength.
So when did the idea first come to him, and was it something that instantly took hold, or niggled away for many months before taking action?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr Thomas Mulliez
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Thomas Mulliez such as:
How he decided on the area that he was going to build a business in, and the steps that he took to start his new venture.
Why Thomas felt the need to go and see a mentor, and how it managed him to see a totally different way of proceeding in the future.
Thomas shares why he surrounds himself with greatest minds that he can hope to find, and what he does to hos own development.
Why a terrible bachelor party first gave him the idea of starting how own business, but he still needed a push from his own company to tackle it head on.
How To Connect With Thomas Mulliez
Return To The Top Of Thomas Mulliez
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Full Transcription Of Thomas Mulliez Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK, David Ralph. Yeah, we
David Ralph [0:25]
don’t want to let you settle. We want to give you the the inspiration, and of course, the conversation to make your lives amazing because every single one of you listening out there has gone it got it ready, you just got to start taking the bold decisions, sometimes the crazy decisions, and sometimes the decisions that you think I really don’t know why I’m doing this, but HSP was right. And today’s guest is somebody that I think could possibly tick off all those boxes. He is a father, husband, entrepreneur and the visionary behind eye trackers now, he founded the company not too long ago in 2014, after realising that bringing together vetted professional captains and guides on one platform would help guarantee everyone a better experience in the outdoors. But what does that mean exactly? Well, as he says, driven by my passion for hiking and fishing and the unreliable and diverse experiences that I’ve had eye trackers had been born. Now eye trackers concept is simple, we connect customers to amazing outdoor experiences that will help make them advocates. In order to achieve this, we’ve developed eye trackers.com, where customers will be able to search a city location such as Tampa, pick the type of fishing trip they want to do ensure near shore or offshore, and the package price combination they want. And voila, we provide you with a guide to book now, our booking process is simple, safe and secure. And best of all, we guarantee our trips 100% customer satisfaction or your money back. The end goal is straightforward. They want all the customers to have the best chance of experiencing the great outdoors in the most pleasant and exciting ways possible. Now, this is an interesting concept for so many reasons. Not least for me the mental aspect of building a business around something, but I can’t afford it. Isn’t that already out? There isn’t somebody else doing it already? How can I charge for something people can do for free anyway? Well, I guess it’s ploughed through all the obstacles and now seeing his business go from strength to strength. So when did the idea first come to him? And was it something that instantly took hold or just niggled away for many months before taking action? And well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Thomas Thomas Mulliez. Good morning, Thomas. How are you sir?
Thomas Mulliez [2:30]
Hey, good morning. I’m doing great. Thanks so much for having me.
David Ralph [2:33]
It is great to have you on now. The thing that shocked me right if you’re French, your French You are the most American sounding Frenchman I’ve ever heard. How have you thrown off the French shackles and become my favourite American? Well,
Thomas Mulliez [2:51]
I’m born in Lille, France. So you know, that’s, that’s the northern France region, I actually immigrated as an illegal alien, if you will, to the US when I was one, you know, got got a green card with my parents. And then we moved back to France when I was six, came back to the US when I was 13, Montreal, Canada at the age of 18. Back to the US, then Costa Rica, then back to the US kind of kind of been all over and throughout the travels, you know, as a kid learning a language, you tend to learn it in the accent of the locals. And so all my friends were Americans, you know, we spoke French at home. You know, I was taking French lessons from my mom. But that’s that’s how you do it. You know, it’s it’s it’s teaching a language to to someone who’s 16 years old in the US, that doesn’t work. We need to teach languages to three year olds, and we we’d be shocked by those by those results.
David Ralph [3:48]
So So where do you feel most connected to?
Thomas Mulliez [3:52]
Ah, I don’t really, that’s that’s one of my that’s one of my problems. You know, I all of my family’s in France, my aunts, uncles, grandparents, everybody, except for my nuclear family. My parents are in Atlanta. I’m in Tampa. I got a sister in California, now another sister in San Francisco and then a sister in Costa Rica. So it’s kind of all over.
David Ralph [4:18]
Now, you are in a position to be able to cast your net across the world and go when ever you want. Does that make it easier or more difficult to start a business? Does a business nowadays have to have a central hub that you spread out from? Or can you just cast your net anywhere you want, especially in your kind of role where you are creating a business involving the outdoors.
Thomas Mulliez [4:45]
So our business is pretty specific and the way that we and I trekkers have to vet our guides. It involves a lot of face to face. So for us it’s a little bit more difficult because of the 100% money back guarantee. But For most, the reality is you can pretty much start a business in any coffee shop of the world targeting any other place in the world. I actually have a cousin who’s, who started his own business. And he’s focused on creating entrepreneur hostels, okay, if you will. So he’s got like hostels, all over South America, all over Asia. And it’s full of, you know, Europeans and Americans just living the dream and working from away all running their own businesses.
David Ralph [5:31]
Which to me seems like a genius thing, because I know that so many people in the entrepreneurial world have this desire for a laptop life. But once I get into it, it’s very difficult to find somewhere that I can remain connected easily. So, so bad for my mindset, I think to myself, yeah, I can see that as a business. I’m supposed to 800 people. Bang, that’s it. Now, when you came on to the day four, and you landed in front of me, the very first thing that I thought, as I said in the introduction was, isn’t this already out there? Is this not a business but a course I was talking of my own perspective, where actually is abundance? There are so many people coming to these towns, these companies could flourish left, right and centre, I suppose.
Thomas Mulliez [6:14]
Yeah, you know, there. There are so many people travelling going to towns, and there are tour operators and all that. But what they don’t do, you know, they’re from afar, and they’re not focused specifically on the best possible experience. For the customer. They’re, you know, they’re they’re just focused on a skew. You know, it’s some lady sitting in a call centre that’s answering the phone that’s like, Oh, yeah, we’ve got three tours located in Miami. Here, book one of them. Yeah, but they didn’t, you know, they, they don’t do the legwork, and they don’t really care about the outdoors. Whereas us being specific outdoor focused, we’re able to provide the best possible experiences through that focus, because a, we know our customers B, B, we know exactly what our products are. And see, you know, we’re just focused.
David Ralph [7:06]
Now I’ve, I’ve done a couple of these kind of things. I remember going on a whale watching trip in Boston, Massachusetts, and it was amazing. There was wows everywhere, you literally could not fall out of the boat without hitting a whale. And so when I was in Spain, with my kids, there was a whale watching trip. And I said, Come on, kids. Let’s go. It was brilliant. Last time I did it was amazing. I think we saw a plastic bag, we didn’t see any. And it was just dreadful. Now, in your sort of business, would I be able to claim back on that because surely, there’s so many elements to making a good day, that’s just out of your control?
Thomas Mulliez [7:40]
That you know, there are so we we promise you the best possible experience doesn’t mean you’re going to catch fish, although that’s never really happened. It doesn’t mean that you know, it’s not going to rain, it doesn’t mean that way, you know, when you’re learning to paddle, you’re not going to get tired. And all those things are okay, it is the outdoors. It is living and breathing and nature that you cannot just control like that. But we don’t offer things that we can’t control the majority of it, if that makes sense. Yeah, we control the guides, we control the gear, we control ensuring that we have, you know, the best possible situation to provide the best possible experience. And that and, and that’s what we’re focused on.
David Ralph [8:24]
So when you start this business, for everybody out there listening, they’re all interested in changing their own situations and starting their own businesses. So were you the classic, you started a business because you was his ideal customer is that the way that a lot of businesses start and probably is the best way to start a business.
Thomas Mulliez [8:44]
You know, I think that is a way that a lot of businesses start but that’s not how I started, right? You know, I know what I’m doing camping, hiking. That’s my passion. The reason I started this business is me knowing the outdoors, knowing what I’d like to do, was having a hard time finding a way to get outdoors. And really that’s what I trekkers is about it’s about giving accessibility back to the population when our outdoor footprint is getting smaller and smaller and smaller. So we make it reasonably priced. We provide the equipment that now cost 1000s and 1000s of dollars and we provide the know how that’s been lost. And we allow our customers to either go have private experiences to go have group lessons. So it’s not like I had a problem. And you know, let’s create a solution. Yeah, it’s I knew what I was doing and I still couldn’t do it easily. I was still having horrible experiences. And so I’m like, how does someone who doesn’t have my experience, get a great experience in the outdoors with no no how and no gear? And, and that’s kind of where they the entire kind of concept was was born out. Was that my frustration for others?
David Ralph [10:02]
So you would laying in bed where you went? Did the clouds open? And oh, your business idea come to you? Or did it just niggle away for ages?
Thomas Mulliez [10:13]
It’s, it’s been, it’s been at me for a long time. The idea was born out of my brother in law’s bachelor party. So that’s like, 11 years ago,
David Ralph [10:23]
I wasn’t gonna. So I promise you,
Thomas Mulliez [10:26]
yeah, well, you know, we, we wanted to go fishing and the boat was not as advertised, the captain was drunk. And, you know, the gear was pathetic. And the experience was terrible. And, and, you know, we got 11 guys on a boat, when the max capacity is six, it was just a bunch of stuff was just terrible. And that’s kind of where it was born. But it It took me to get fired, laid off, but really fired. From my job at Capitol one. For me to sit back and be like, what it is, you know, what is it that I really want to do? I’m tired of working for corporate America, I’m tired of being treated like a number. I really just want to take control of my life. Oh, and by the way, I have two kids. So how am I going to do this?
David Ralph [11:14]
And when you when you say I got laid off, I got fired, I got laid off, I got fired. It’s sort of you had a conversation with yourself at that time. So looking back on it, were you fired? Because your heart just wasn’t in it? How did that occur? Because it always seems to me that people start businesses nowadays, more often than not to get away from a miserable situation. I did it. Literally every single one of my guests have done it. They’ve been found finding themselves in a position of pain, or panic. And then they hit home. And then they think why didn’t I do this earlier?
Thomas Mulliez [11:50]
That’s a good question. So a little bit of backstory, capital on was a was acquired HSBC us card. And that acquisition, they were $80 million over budget. In the integration of the two. I was a new call centre, director, manager, whatever you want to call it. Here in Tampa, I was the running all the analytics in Richmond, Virginia. And they asked me to, you know, hey, you’ve been doing some amazing stuff, creating all these new customer first methodologies and profiles and a new way for us to teach our phone agents how to service customers, can you please actually go implement that and start something in Tampa. And so that’s why I came down and a year into it. You know, I came into an established environment. They basically wanted me to go back to Richmond, because they had three directors with 1000 people. And they were told they needed to. And I said, Listen, man, you know, you guys just moved me, my wife and my two kids down to Tampa, Florida. Now you’re asking me to move back? No, I’m not doing that. I’m not going back. So, you know, do as you wish, but I’m here until you say so. And six months later, they said, so like, you didn’t want to go back. You are the junior director here. You know, your work has been absolutely amazing. But you know, you can’t really manage a call centre. So why don’t you you know, take in this nice package, and we’ll give you some bs job for six months. As extra We’re sorry. Where I literally worked like two or three hours a week and they all knew it. I talked to my Xbox. I’m like, dude, like, I’m doing nothing here. Yeah, nothing. Yeah, say, Hey, you know, take it for what it’s worth, figure out what you do want to do. I’m like, great. So and that gave me you know, the seed money to actually start this idea. And so every day I come into my office, and I’d be like, Oh, I need to go find a job. And then every day there was less and less job search and more and more business plan writing for this idea. And I finally had the courage, the colonists, the whatever you want to call it to actually take the plunge and start up my own business.
David Ralph [14:11]
I I thought, you know, I look back on everything I’ve been through. And I don’t think now, it is courage. And I don’t think it’s a leap as people say, I think it’s just a moment, but it’s undeniable. You just can’t put it off anymore. You can come up with all the obstacles, all the reasons why you can’t but it just gets to that point where you think I’m not happy Anyway, let’s just see what happens. And it sounded like but you know, looking back on it now, you’ve got a gift, because you know, you’ve got a severance pay. You’ve got a bit of Flexi time where you can sort of start getting the coax going for the new role. I didn’t have that when I said I was leaving my company. They basically made me sit at my desk for three months. With no escape at all. I just sat there for eight hours a day, bored out Moscow, funnily enough passing the time listening to podcasts. And that was, I don’t think there was an idea at that time for me to go, Oh, I’m going to be a podcaster. But it started to sort of get into my brain. So your company gave you a gift. And they then they actually said, Look, take some money and figure out what you’re gonna do with your life.
Thomas Mulliez [15:18]
They did. You know, I’m really fortunate in that aspect of things, which is why I don’t talk negatively about Capital One. They did right by me through doing wrong, that makes sense. Yeah. Yeah. But But you know, what they cared about what value I brought to them, and they, and they, you know, I was fast tracked, and had I gone back to Richmond, I’d have a very bright career. But I just, I wasn’t going to move my family again. You know, I I’m very family focused. And, and that matters a lot to me. Because my father wasn’t, you know, he was an entrepreneur, and he was gone, you know, come back at 9pm. I mean, my mom basically raised us and we saw my dad on the weekends. So,
David Ralph [16:03]
so, so, family, Tom, a big part of your venture now, are you? How many kids have you got?
Thomas Mulliez [16:09]
I’ve got three children. Olivia is eight. Emily is six. And do the devil is commerce too?
David Ralph [16:17]
So do you think that you are because I personally say to my wife, the biggest gift that I’m giving my kids is the possibility to see there’s a different way. You know, there’s a different way of living a life creating an income, then just going to job getting on the train and going to an office. Do you think your kids are looking at dad now thinking? I’m not sure if he’s working or playing? This sounds great to me?
Thomas Mulliez [16:44]
Yeah, yeah, they kind of do. It’s like, oh, today I’m going to go teach a paddleboard lesson, or I’m going to try out some new camping gear for you know, our classes or Yeah, for big adventures. Like, they, they definitely see me having a good time. They also see me stressed, they also see me, you know, facing difficult decisions. They overhear me and my wife talking. I mean, you know, this is a startup and startups are not easy. startups are hard. And, you know, we actually just made a massive pivot here eight weeks ago. And and, you know, that’s, that’s been difficult and will have ramifications on our business.
David Ralph [17:26]
Okay, so let’s talk about, well, we’re gonna come back to the early startup stage, because that’s what we’re fascinating. But the massive pivot, the massive pivot that you’ve gone through, how did you get to the point, because I think that when people start a business, it’s Hustle, Hustle, Hustle, when they get something going, and then they almost protect what they’ve got. They’re not willing to pivot, and you’re still you’re bite yours, a toddler, basically, you know, it’s what three years old, two and a half years old or something. So this huge pivot, what made you go in that direction, away from just protecting what you’ve got at the moment.
Thomas Mulliez [18:06]
In February, I went to see a mentor. And his name’s Steve, an amazing individual, who I knew would give it to me straight, he’s probably the only one who would get all the emotion out of it and give it to me straight. I said, Steve, I got a problem. And I laid it out. said, my cost of acquisition, ie how much money it costs me to acquire customer is not going down fast enough, because repeat purchases aren’t happening, because our guide network of independent guides are stealing our customers. And yet, I’m still, so I’m paying all this money to acquire customers. But because they’re not coming back, the amount of money I make per customer per year, which is called average customer value is not high enough. And so there’s just seems to be something wrong. We’re doing great. We’re three x five x prior year, continuing our growth, but just that’s still not there. And so we spoke for about 20 minutes, and he asked a gazillion questions that I answered. And then he just showed me the simple calculation. And it was cost of acquisition needs to be equal or less than average customer value. So basically, the amount of money it costs you to acquire customer needs to be one third or less of the amount of money you make per customer per year. And that’s the magic formula. And mine was the exact opposite. I was three acts more on the acquiring than the money I was making. So realistically, you sit down and you look at that and it’s like, okay, I can keep hustling and focused on what I’m doing and pushing that and slowly decrease our number and eventually get to a business that is worldwide and making money
Unknown Speaker [19:57]
Thomas Mulliez [20:00]
I can think long and hard about what I’m doing, and figure out if that’s the best way to do it. And so I chose to think long and hard about it. And, you know, for three months, we did and what what came out of it was, you know, this third party guide service thing that we created, that’s great, that’s getting people outdoors, but it’s not actually aligning to our mission vision values. And so now we’re becoming educators. And we’re creating what’s called the outdoor University. And you’re the first person I’m telling this to, by the way,
David Ralph [20:34]
oh, wait, we’ve got it, we’ve got a scoop a world exclude our
Thomas Mulliez [20:38]
world exclusive out of Tampa Bay for it. But, you know, we’re using our in house guide network that we created people that are on payroll, or that we pay hourly, to curate lessons to actually teach people how to fish camp hike and paddle as opposed to putting on these great events for you know, the these great private experiences for them, we’re creating a more of a social environment, teach and learn with a curriculum and a university type of structure where people can do a one on one for fishing, and then they can do a two a one, and then they can do a three, a one. And then if they follow all the curriculum, they can get into this grand, you know, member only private fishing tournament, and just things like that to, to get people reengaged with the outdoors, at at $10 a cost instead of 450 bucks. And it’s a transformational idea that’s not being done today. To your point earlier, you know, people were doing what we were doing before, they just weren’t doing as well. And now, you know, we’re gonna have three sides to our business, we’re gonna have the outdoor University, we’re gonna have our private adventures, and then we’re gonna have gear sales as well. So we’re gonna equip those customers coming through our university.
David Ralph [21:58]
Brilliant stuff, that is fantastic. And it leads me to the perfect motivational speech. But then we’re going to delve back into the here’s Oprah,
Unknown Speaker [22:07]
way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself, what is the next right move? not think about, Oh, I got all of this stuff. But what is the next right move? And then from that space, make the next right move. And then next right move, and not to be overwhelmed by it. Because you know, your life is bigger than that one moment, you know, you’re not defined by what somebody says, is a failure for you. Because failure is just there to point you in a different direction.
David Ralph [22:38]
Those words, love those words, big time. So before you went to see Steve, the mentor, and it sounds like everybody needs a Steve in their life, where you sort of just running around, panicking, shouting, screaming, do you go very, very quiet. And just people know you’ve got a problem, because because that’s how I do it. I just kind of don’t talk to anyone, I just go really, really into myself. How did you find the solution that Oprah was talking about there?
Thomas Mulliez [23:05]
Well, we implemented a new business process called Scrum. And basically, it’s I created a team within my team. And I said, Guys, we have a problem. And here’s our problem. ACV is not less than equal, you know, our cost of acquisition. And, and I said, and here a couple ways that things could go up, or things could go down. And we’ve got three months to make this equation work. And give it everything we’ve got. And I’m going to let you guys run with it. And so I closed the door. They were, you know, they worked as a team, they did amazing things to our website, to our flow, etc. massive improvements. All the big rocks were chewed up, and even medium rocks. And until they came back to me and reported, hey, this is where we are. We’ve made massive improvements. And we’re still only halfway there. And it’s going to cost us a tonne and tonne of money to get all the little pebbles to get to where we need to go.
David Ralph [24:14]
what intrigues me with you, Thomas, is that you seem to be quite open, to get people to help you build a team around you. You’re not the solopreneur you’re very much entrepreneurial, was that it wasn’t an awareness at the beginning, but you had to invest in help and support you couldn’t do this all on your own.
Thomas Mulliez [24:37]
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve always believed that we each have our skill set, minds analysis and strategy and kind of, you know, bringing together the short term, the medium term and the long term vision together and seeing that roadmap and communicating that effectively. That’s what I’m good at. and managing people. I’m not good at coding. I’m terrible. Actually. I can’t even code a line. And I run a tech company, quote unquote, right? So I design, I can’t design things at all, my first website that I designed was absolutely heinous and terrible flunked so badly, I had to scrap the whole project, I lost half a million. And I had to start all over again, and relaunch five months later, because I picked the wrong partners I didn’t understand or know. And that’s so I learned real quick, who you have working with you, is probably more important than how great your idea is, or how potential large the market is. You know, it’s it’s really about surround yourself with the right people with the right skill set, the ones you don’t have and listening to them and letting them work. If you hire smart people, let them do their job.
David Ralph [25:51]
And easy. Is it easy of being you because you’re very face to face? Is your team around you? Or is it like virtual because I see So, and I’ve done it myself, I’ve hired people virtually, where I haven’t had a chance to really get to know them. And it hasn’t worked. I just, I’ve either over managed firm, I haven’t allowed them to do what they want to do, or they haven’t delivered with the urgency that I wanted. But there was a kind of obstacle and I think it comes down to the inability to actually connect with them one to one.
Thomas Mulliez [26:22]
Well, you know, now that we have Skype and whatnot, my team is local, as well as virtual. So they don’t have to be in the office, we had a lot of our meetings where we use Skype, and we use the Google version, join me. And we have, you know, meetings as groups, as if we were all in a room. And that’s one way for us to connect. It is difficult depending you know, if there’s a language barrier I find, so I tend to shy away from working with other individuals who don’t share my you know, either French or English, like a direct way for me to communicate, where the nuances are understood and the jokes make sense. And the C’mon, the camaraderie can kind of get started. And that’s not a knock at all on the talent or skill level of those individuals who who may not share my you know, my language. It’s just That’s for me, it makes it easier. Because that Capital One, you know, I I worked a lot with individuals in India and Malaysia. And it was sometimes difficult. Explaining the complexity of of a topic to someone who’s English really was a second language.
David Ralph [27:41]
Yeah, no, I agree with you. I’ve found Malaysians to be excellent. I’ve found Indians to be excellent. But I’d rather work with a Malaysian when an Indian going forward, because I just couldn’t find that commonality in my language, even though I thought I was speaking it as clearly as I possibly could. It was difficult, it was difficult to proceed. But on the other side of the fence, going virtually abroad is damn sight cheaper than hiring somebody from America, for example.
Thomas Mulliez [28:11]
It really is. I mean, if you think about my mic, let’s bring my cousin’s business back back in here. You know, a European or an American or whatever, living abroad, cheaply, is also less expensive than someone paying the mortgage. Yeah. And so there is a palesa of talent out there that might be in Bali, they might be you know, wherever that is available at a lower cost. Something to think about?
David Ralph [28:46]
It certainly is, is something so when we sort of look at your business again, because I’m I’m fascinated and intrigued how we can give the audience a blueprint to kind of follow, are we saying but basically, right at the very beginning, you saw something that wasn’t good. And you decided to connect what wasn’t good with your own personal interests? And then you looked at how to actually present that in a way that was appealing to the audience. Did you start with just the concept? Did you start with a sexy website? How did you go from that first idea to actually getting somebody to pay you give you their credit card and say yes, sounds good.
Thomas Mulliez [29:30]
Well, I started with a idea that I mapped out it was essentially a dual marketplace. So I needed guides on the one side and I needed customers on the other and guides were the easy part. So I got to have fun and go fishing a lot with a lot of guides and and whatnot. And then I had to bring customers and so I created a marketing you know I paid for customers essentially Pay Per Click Facebook advertising and I’m mirrored the two together. And even on my screen, the heinous disgusting first website, we got people to buy. And so that was it was exciting, you know, people are looking for a way to do less research, you know, the only way to find a guy that really today, right at that point specifically, was to go online and type in, you know, Tampa fishing guide, or Tampa fishing charters. And then there’s like 10,000 websites of 10,000 individuals telling you how amazing they are, and that they’re the best in the back. And then it was for you the could the customer to decide, okay, who was really good, and was going to give you the best chance and having the best experience. And we basically took that data synthesised it made it more accessible and in a more user friendly way, which a lot of businesses do in different sectors. So it’s how do you have an idea? How do you execute that idea, bring it together in a new way that makes sense for the customer, as well as for the guide, and then launch it and see what happens.
David Ralph [31:11]
And what I love about your website, and I talk to a lot of people, when I do my sort of one to one coaching, I’m very big on the three second rule. But when you hit a website, within three seconds, I’ve got to know what it’s about. Otherwise, I’m clicking off. And yours does, I don’t even have to like look at the pictures. And if you heard that noise, that’s just because I’m on his website at the moment and a little, little chat box, one of his team is asking me some questions. That’s why you would have heard that so. But it’s very interactive. And it’s easy, isn’t it? You don’t have to read words, you just instantly know what your site is about. wasn’t the case when you first started?
Thomas Mulliez [31:50]
Oh, my gosh, no. No, I mean, the site that you’re seeing now is in the middle of our new pivot to right. So it’s, it’s not even up the standard, where we’re just not going to invest the $30,000 or whatnot that we need to put in, until we’ve really understood this new market and how they buy. So the website is critical. Like you say, the design element is almost more important than the functionality side. And a lot of people miss that a lot of websites, you build yourself, you think you know what you’re doing with Wix or whatever, there are so many tools that take care of the coding aspect of your website, which is great shopping cart and whatnot. But the design flow is really what today in our visual society speaks volumes, in my opinion, it’s like you said it’s a three second rule. Well, you’re not reading a paragraph in three seconds. Right? You’re, you’re staring at it. What the hell did I click on and you leave.
David Ralph [32:55]
I’ve got a new website being built at the moment. And I went with the company in June. And we’re still designing just the homepage at the moment, because I’m absolutely adamant. But as I say, it’s got to hit three seconds. And also, it’s got to be 100%. About the listener of Join Up Dots. I see so many websites that you go on there. And it’s all about the presenter is all about the actual, the business itself. And I think to myself, no, and it’s taken me a long time to get the company that I’m working with to understand that. It might be my show, it might be my podcast, but it’s about the listener every time I do an episode is about the listener. And it’s been difficult. And as we say six months, and we’re still signing off the homepage, because it’s going back and forth, back and forth to try to make it cleaner, but more accessible for every single person that hits it. It never stops, does it?
Thomas Mulliez [33:51]
No, it doesn’t. I’m a little bit worried for you. By the way.
David Ralph [33:58]
I’m a little bit but for myself, actually, Thomas, you know,
Thomas Mulliez [34:00]
I know exactly what you’re gonna say. Six months for a homepage. It sounds like you’re working with people who don’t see your vision.
David Ralph [34:10]
And you absolutely will. And I will tell you how this came about. And if you’re listening to this, then it’s fair enough is how I feel. I had the opportunity of working with people from across the world. And I decided once that I would work with somebody locally. So I did all my due diligence and I found a company locally that I thought was going to be good for me so I could go to their office, I could sit down and I could I could write it down. And I’m at that point where I’m either pulling the plug on it or we’re going for full steam ahead because they couldn’t quite grasp my vision. And even though I ended up almost designing the thing myself, it was almost beyond them. And I’ve had it I’ve found it difficult to find the comfortable time to play Pull out, when you think I’ve spent all this money, am I free weeks away from getting what I want is the penny going to drop. And that’s a learning curve for myself.
Thomas Mulliez [35:10]
So what you just described is my starter story. That is exactly what I did. I was working with a company, they had fishing rods, and very outdoorsy feel they were local, I did my research. And six months it took to build a really bad website. And the more money I gave them, the more indebted I felt, the more I kept saying, I gotta push through, my wife kept telling me I was a moron. And then I had to scrap it all, and I lost all my seed money. And what I’ve learned is test through trial. If they don’t get it, cut the plug, then move to the next one. Because in the end, you’re going to save a lot of money. Don’t make my mistake, now, half a million dollars, don’t do not make my mistake. If they cannot see your vision and ask the questions that like, like, let me backtrack, my designer, I tell her what I want. And she says, okay, she, she takes that away. And then she comes back with very detailed questions and different mock ups. And she’s like, Okay, this is kind of what you told me, is this what I heard correctly, I’m like, No, this is what I want. And then the next time around, it’s like, perfect, because she asks those questions, user flow Can’t you know, this is kind of how I’m seeing how we lay out the tracks, and the track cards and the shopping cart and blah, blah, like, in there. And there are a lot of people with that skill, they’re just hard to find. And oftentimes, the person who’s coding your website cannot just cannot be the person who designs it. Because they’re gonna design it from a coders perspective, and not from a consumers perspective. Well, that’s what I’ve learned. Yeah.
David Ralph [36:56]
And that’s one of the reasons I went with a company that are weird, because there was a coder, and there was a designer. And unfortunately, my design, belief, my design vision, I’m a visionary, I can see things absolutely was just beyond their capabilities. And I feel like I’m actually stretching the company, to their next level, so that they can actually say, this is what we can create, but at the moment is, is pretty much me doing it. So as you here listeners, you know, Join Up Dots is a global success, but it’s only a global success in certain regards. In other regards, I’m having to learn as I go along as well, I’m gonna make mistakes, I’m gonna spend money, that doesn’t work. But if you’ve got that vision, and you’ve got that belief, you can overcome it. And you can find your way around, and you can find the good people that really work. And you can have the conversations with people that don’t work. But you’re not going to have any of that. If you just sit there and willing to press the button at the beginning and get going like Thomas did. Thomas was kind of false. But he also had that decision, he could have gone into another call centre somewhere, and just done exactly what he did before. But he decided to press that button and see what happens. And after you press that button, Thomas, you literally do just make it up as you go along. Don’t you? There’s there’s this thing about entrepreneurship, like it’s, it’s in you, you’re born entrepreneur, but you’re not you’re just kind of you’re more willing to make mistakes, lose out financially and learn from it.
Thomas Mulliez [38:24]
Yes. Yeah, it’s entrepreneurship is one mistake after another mistake. Like what I liked about the Oprah segment, you you said, you know, she says, you know, the next right move. I love those words, that is a little bit more difficult. And probably what it means it really should mean like, for me personally, it’s the next right move that you think is the right move. And if it isn’t the right move, then you make the next right move. But at least you’ve thought through what those moves are. And there’s going to be a lot of mistakes along the way and a lot of bad decisions. And you learn from those and you continue on. And if you run out of money, you close shop and you say you know what, I gave it the best effort I possibly could. And this is everything I’ve learned. And then you go find something else to do with a new cool idea. And you press on it’s, you know, for your listeners out there. If you’ve ever had a great idea, and you didn’t do it, and two years later, or three years later, you saw your great idea, actually executed by somebody else. And if that’s happened to you a couple times, then you’re probably a smart individual with great ideas, who actually has a knack for seeing missing links within the marketplace, or problems that need to be solved. And it’s just that you’re not choosing to do it. And it’s at that point in time that you should probably sit down with yourself and say Do I really love what I’m doing? I only get To live once, is it worth not pursuing and adding it to my baggage of ideas that I’ve had that never got executed?
David Ralph [40:10]
Let’s face it, yeah, that’s a speech and a half. And let’s play some words that really cement what you’re saying, Man, this guy, he learned more from his failures, Ben, he successes, Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [40:22]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards. 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [40:57]
Now bear obviously powerful words, Thomas, but I like the kind of words that you appreciate more, because you’re going through it with the call centre version. Have you ever understood what Steve was talking about?
Unknown Speaker [41:11]
Thomas Mulliez [41:15]
Yes, because I come from an entrepreneurial background. So you know, my family’s very entrepreneurial. So I’ve seen Steve Steve’s words in action, really close to me. I’ve been fortunate to see that. But at the same time, seeing it and understanding it from yourself are two different things. So I would have I grasped the call centre, Tom grasps the concept. The eye trackers, Tom lives this every day,
David Ralph [41:48]
is exciting to live, isn’t it, even though we’re talking about, you know, difficult times financial troubles is still more exciting to do this than anything I did in my corporate life, really, I feel more alive by the struggles than what I did for the previous 30 years.
Thomas Mulliez [42:07]
Absolutely. Hands down. You know, I love what I do. You know, I get to change the world, one person at a time. David, like each person that I introduce or reintroduce back to a love of the outdoors, is the creation of an outdoor advocate, that gets added to my 1 million man, woman and child army that I’m creating, of people who are going to care more about the beauty that surrounds them than they did before. Like each and every smile, and memory, and laugh, and tear. It’s all part of that plan. You know, and, and, and the will the the strength that I get from that every day, even if I fail, I will have succeeded at least in opening the eyes to 1000s and 1000s of people.
David Ralph [43:10]
Now good on you. I think everything has to have a mission. I really do. And I think once that mission really becomes bigger than yourself, because it is a bit you know, let’s get this ball rolling. Let’s pay the bills. But once you get past for, then I think you’ve got to aim for the stars, don’t you and I love that you’re going for a million people.
Thomas Mulliez [43:28]
And you know what? I think if you actually start out that way without worrying about paying the bills, then the money just happens. If you’re successful, and you create the snowball effect, as I call it, you know, you’re at the top of the hill, there’s a lot of snow, you tail, a snowball, you push it, you push it, you push it and all of a sudden the big snowball starts rolling and then it’s just uncontrollable, and nothing can stop it. And that’s what we’re trying to create. We’re at the top of the hill. And we’re finally at that epic point where that snowball is gonna start rolling
David Ralph [44:03]
all by itself. And you do realise that once it slows down, you’re just looking at another bigger Hill. Yep. Yep. Absolutely. And you’re ready. You’re ready for that? Oh, yeah, you’re ready for the way you think you’ve achieved but actually, you think Oh my God, I’ve only just started getting going.
Thomas Mulliez [44:20]
Yeah, I’m there right now. I’m, I’m taking a chainsaw to my snowball, making it smaller, but sleeker and faster and putting a little bit lower water and some ice in there, you know, to really get it going.
David Ralph [44:34]
So you’ll do it. Thomas, you do it. I’ve got total belief in you and everyone that I attract is this is a vision that’s bigger than yourself. And they’re the ones I totally believe in. Well, this is the part of the show that we’ve been leading up to, and it’s the part called the Sermon on the mic when we’re going to send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time to speak to the young Thomas, what age would you choose and what advice would you give him? Well, we’re going to find out because we’re going to play the first And when it fades, you’re up. This is the Sermon on the mic. With the best
Unknown Speaker [45:13]
bit of the show,
Unknown Speaker [45:19]
Thomas Mulliez [45:27]
So what I would tell my former self, hey, Tom, you’re 16 years old. Let me tell you a couple things from the future. One. Don’t marry a French Canadian. They’re crazy. Seriously, don’t do it.
Unknown Speaker [45:46]
Thomas Mulliez [45:49]
listen to yourself. And don’t be pressured by others who give you your life’s plan that you’re going to end up executing for 20 plus years, and a wake up one day feeling pissed and cheated.
Unknown Speaker [46:09]
Thomas Mulliez [46:12]
have fun with life. cherish the moments that are great, and learn from those that aren’t. So you’re better prepared for when those little issues that you live today are much greater in the future, with a lot more potential Fallout and responsibility. And finally, get outdoors get everybody you know outdoors, and take a second to breathe that in. And never forget that feeling of being connected to nature.
David Ralph [46:49]
Perfect advice and I hope the young Tom takes that on board. So tell us what’s the number one best way that our audience who’ve been listening to today can connect with you?
Thomas Mulliez [46:58]
Well, you know, obviously you can check us out on Facebook, Instagram, all over the place and I trekkers you can go to our website I trekkers calm ITR v kk ers comm drop me an email, Tom Olivier, and you ll IE at AI trekkers calm. And, or, you know, listen to the show, check out the show notes, all the info will be there.
David Ralph [47:23]
Oh, you’re good, you’re good. You’re like it, you’re like a podcast of air, check out the show notes. Yeah, that’s exactly where we will put all the links. And to make it easy for all our listeners to find those ways of connecting with every single guest. Thomas, thank you so much for spending time with us today, joining up those dots. And please come back again, when you got more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Thomas, thank you so much.
Thomas Mulliez [47:50]
I really appreciate it. Thanks so much for having me.
David Ralph [47:54]
Thomas Mooney, a, I think that’s good, isn’t it, you’ve got something that’s around you anyway, you’re tapping into experience, but people have already got. So you can build a network, and then teach people how to do it. And as I say, if you teach a man to fish, he never goes hungry again, something like that. If you give a man a fish, he has one meal, if you teach a man to fish, he never goes hungry again. And what Thomas is doing is building something that has got structure, it’s got three or four layers. So if you’re thinking of building a business right from scratch, think about how you can retain that customer how you can provide so much value that that customer will want to sign on for a monthly membership, or six monthly to keep it sort of going on gold, silver bronze levels, instead of just getting the person through bang. Next one comes in bang, next one comes in. But it’s the way that you build real growth in a business by scaling it up retaining the customers you’ve got and adding to them too. Until next time, thank you so much for listening to Join Up Dots. If you like that episode, and you feel like somebody could benefit from the words and wisdom that we share. Please tell them just tell them to go over to iTunes, look up for Join Up Dots or Google and and have a listen and who knows, maybe they will like it. Until next time. Thank you so much. And we will speak again. Cheers.
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you or wants to become so he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.