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Kevin is a serial entrepreneur who have ran +10 businesses. One of them is NerdPilots, a successful design and development agency that is making $25,000/month. He started it as a way to support his other projects, but he soon started getting lots of customers. His goal for 2019 is to achieve $100,000/month. Learn from his successes!
March 24, 2019
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A 5-minute read that's informative, witty and free? That's Morning Brew — the daily email that delivers the latest news from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.
Hey there! My name is Kevin Pereira and I am the founder of NerdPilots.
But my entrepreneurial journey didn’t start with NerdPilots. During the last few years, I have built multiple businesses on different industries. One of the first ones was a house cleaning company based in San Jose, California, which turned to be pretty big and I sold it. It is called InstaMaids (it’s still up right now) and they about a million dollars per year.
After this, I decided to go on vacation for a little bit until my business partner, Rohan, and I started a company called Wet Shave Club, a pretty big wet shaving goodies subscription box company. We had around two thousand members paying us like $30 a month. The most that we did with that company was $100,000 in December of 2014 or 2015.
Then, I started a SAS company called GrooveJar, which I successfully sold.
Another of my businesses that is great to mention is Convert27, a powerful marketing software for local businesses that is mostly used by Launch27’s users right now. And we have the objective of including some more products into Launch27 software.
Launch27 and TripLaunch are making thirty thousand dollars per month and Convert27 is doing over three thousand dollars a month right now (but that's going to be growing in a small period of time).
And finally, I run NerdPilots, which generates somewhere between 15 to 25 thousand dollars a month right now, but our goal by the end of 2019 is to get it into a $100,000/month.
So that's where I am at and that's pretty much what I'm working on. I have a couple of other projects, such as a website that I'm going to be starting up soon for where I will sell aviation-related things and maybe one or two other SaaS.
I run all these businesses living in Big Bear Lake, California, a little mountain community about two hours from Los Angeles.
But let’s move into NerdPilots. As I've built so many different products and websites, people have been always asking me to use my designers and developers. So, I thought: “let's create a little agency where people can get a website built or if they have any website issues, they can come to us and we'll fix it.”
I have a business partner called Rohan who helps with them. But what I think it works the best is a great team. I make one developer focus on one project and another developer on another project and I just discuss with them my vision for the product.
But it's a lot of work. I work all day.
Another cool strategy is to work with virtual assistants. They get in charge of emails and customer support which saves me a lot of time to work on my projects. I have a virtual assistant called Joan who works on three of my businesses. I find these virtual assistants on UpWork or by recommendations.
I've always been an entrepreneur. I've always enjoyed having my own business and not having to go to work and to the office every day. So that's a pretty big motivation for me.
I enjoy running teams and working with people. And I am always looking for an opportunity. Anywhere there's money to be made I want to try that thing out
And I have no problems trying things that I think are going to fail as well, like the aviation website. We're going to be building it, although I believe it is most likely that it’s going to fail. But that's it's not really a big deal. I'm just going to lose a couple thousand dollars and that'll be it. On the other side, I will have lots of new experiences and new knowledge.
The first websites that I did were a failure. I didn't really understand a lot of the necessary components of sites, like how to make it nice and how to increase converting customers rate.
Wet Shave Club was also a failure as we dissolved it. Even though our revenues were large, it was really difficult to make any profit off it because it was a physical product. As we grew, we had to spend more and more money on more products. It became a huge cash flow issue.
This shows that even if your business is successful and generating revenue, it doesn't mean that you're going to succeed. Failure is just a natural thing and I look at it as “I’m just going to try this out and if it works great, but if it doesn't work, it’s also fine.”.
One strategy that I have found that is great to avoid failure is to never start a business unless there's another similar business that's successful in the market.
Anyway, a lot of people overthink failure and believe a business failure is the end of the world and that everyone's going to be laughing at them. And this is not true.
And I want to emphasize that even generating revenue, your business won’t be successful. GrooveJar, for example, was making fifteen hundred dollars a month. That was a great site income, but for me, it wasn't really growing and it was taking me a lot of time with customer support. I also didn’t feel really excited about the project so I just decided to move on.
Success is kind of relative and it can really be a lot of different things.
But let’s move to NerdPilots. The reason behind the creation of it is that I wanted to see what people's projects were and help them with them. I enjoy the beginning stages of businesses where you have an idea and then it actually becomes like a business that can make money.
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So, the process I take to build all of my projects (including NerdPilots) starts with talking with my main designer and explaining to him what I want to build. Then I send him examples of things that I like from different websites. A couple of days later, he comes with the website design. After this, we spend a couple of days improving it.
I ask some of my friends what they think, and then I go to my developer and tell him to code the design into a website. And that's it.
We started NerdPilots with the service model. We had a rudimentary back end where people could manage their projects. But soon we moved into the traditional agency model site as I found we had three clients and it was already a mess.
Since launching NerdPilots, we completely redesign the homepage. I didn't like the original design that much and we had to remove the SaaS options.
When you're doing unlimited design or development, you're looking at a different type of client, such as small agencies with their own clients that need help. But dealing with them was not enjoyable. And we also realized that we were going to spend the same amount of time working to acquire a client that was going to pay us a $100/month versus $50,000 for a project.
So, after we got a big $38,000 project, I realized that we have to focus on bigger projects instead of small subscriptions that paid $69/month.
Right now, NerdPilots has 12 team members – 1 project manager, 2 designers, 2 assistants and 7 developers. But at the time of launching it only had one team member. I promoted the business on some Facebook groups, but I was limited with how many clients we could take because our back-end wasn't really that great.
The best way to get customers has been Craigslist. We just posted on Craigslist every day and we find lots of good clients (and a lot of bad clients as well!).
We're working on social media right now, and we're also working on a blog and a big guide.
One of the big problems that we see is that when people are coming to us with new projects, there's no standardized format. People rarely have a document together with their ideas or examples ready. That’s why we are working on a guide which is going to help a lot of people when they want to create some software or website putting all of their ideas together presenting them to a developer/development team.
We once tried Google AdWords, but we were not able to make it successful. I think that if we try it again in a different way we might have a little luck.
The biggest challenge is managing clients you work with – there are a lot of different personalities and different expectations. In order to manage these expectations, we now have a contract signed by every client so they know what to expect from us and to protect us from complaints.
I tend to reject customers – I now just feel what kind of client they're going to be and if they're not very responsive.
What we're working on right now on the agency and which we hope to release in two or three weeks is a new version of the backend of the site (which we're probably going to turn it into a SAS company as well). This idea of this back end is to solve a problem with today’s agencies: When you need something to be built by them, you have to email them to get stuff done. And it's not very efficient.
So, what we're going to be building is basically a platform similar to UpWork where clients would create a job post telling what they need. They would basically log it, post the job (I need a website, I need this bug to be fixed, etc.), get a quote and the agency starts working. Clients wouldn’t have to hire anybody as the agency team would be the one in charge of the development.
It's just a way to be much more organized and streamline the whole process.
When we first started NerdPilots, I went with a subscription model where, for 69 dollars a month, customers got two hours of work per month. But soon we found that people's needs varied a lot. Some people just needed an hour every two months while some people needed almost a full-time developer. That’s why we pivoted to the agency model.
But now, what we're trying to build with this new platform is a way for all of these different people to be helped.
I believe there are a lot of teams or maybe even bigger agencies which will find this software really useful, not only to manage their clients but to maximize revenues.
I spend a lot of time going through a lot of CRMs and different products for agencies, but nobody focuses on the aspect of making easier for the customer the task of asking for jobs to be done. Moreover, if your customers are already signed up on your platform and know that they can request a job in only a few minutes, they will probably come over and over again.
So that's our goal with this. Implementing this backend on our agency, but also building a company from it.
And in terms of revenue, as I have already said, we want to grow NerdPilots to $100,000/month by the end of 2019, which is a quite ambitious goal as we are in $25,000/month.
One of the worst things that happened to NerdPilots was with a bad developer who was managing a lot of clients but suddenly stopped being available. It has been a big issue over the last couple of months as we had to move his work over to new developers.
But as far as disadvantages, I don't really think we have any.
We have also committed a few mistakes starting projects or waiting for clients to deliver us needed information for a long time, which has meant losing some clients. We're working right now on trying to make sure the clients have the same expectations that we have.
If I could take to my form self before NerdPilots, I would tell him to focus on content. I need to create a lot more content.
Also, I would tell him to focus on bigger projects instead of smaller ones.
I have built an online school called OverthinkAcademy with my business partner Rohan where I publish business-related courses and information there.
TaskJoyy is going to be a SaaS product of our NerdPilots backend to manage clients and allow them to add projects/tasks, quote them, charge, manage them, etc.
To contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org is best. Let me know if you have any more questions!
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